Saturday, August 17, 2013

Yemen Snapshot

Haykal Bafana is one Twitter account I follow. 
He lives, works and blogs in Sanaa. 

Thoughts on YemenSanaa : Kidnapped Child Freed in Critical ConditionFriday
16 August 2013 
By Haykal Bafana
The insecurity which plagues everyday life in Yemen does not feature in the international media discourse. The recent kidnapping of an infant girl in Sanaa and her release 3 days later highlights just how badly the security situation has deteriorated.
About 2 months ago, my neighbour's 14 year old son was kidnapped in Sanaa. The boy was driving along Sifr Street in Haddah district when gunmen in a Land Cruiser forced him to a stop and spirited him away. The initial news was that the kidnappers demanded only one thing top release the boy : a payment of US$1 million, but the demand soon went up to US$6 million. 
Like the boy and his father, the kidnappers were from a tribe in Marib. The father is a wealthy businessman who could well afford to pay the ransom. However, he apparently refused to pay the kidnappers. There followed a long period where there was no contact from the kidnappers at all and it was a tense situation in my neighbourhood. We were pleasantly surprised when in late July, the son was found unharmed in Marib city. We were told that the kidnappers had given up hope of extorting any money from the boy's father and had dropped the boy off in the middle of the night outside Marib city's public hospital. My neighbourhood was very noisy that night. 
Last week, Yemeni media highlighted the kidnapping of a baby girl named Rimas. Barely 3 years old, Rimas was playing in front of her home on Taiz Street in the capital Sanaa when she was kidnapped. There was a flurry of Yemeni media reports on this beautiful little girl and a reward was offered by the Yemeni Organization to Combat Human Trafficking for any information leading to her release.

Yemeni security authorities revealed today that this little angel was found dumped early this morning in front of a mosque near her home in Taiz Street. Rimas was unconscious and in critical condition, and was immediately hospitalized under intensive care. Doctors now say she is in a coma and had sustained severe kidney damage during her kidnapping. 
There is no news about whether a ransom was paid, or even why the kidnappers released her. Yemeni security authorities suspect that a syndicate was behind the kidnapping : there have been many reports in Yemen of children being kidnapped to be trafficked into Saudi Arabia as beggars or worse, and even becoming victims of organ harvesting operations. 
Children in Yemen already face a gloomy present beset with myriad issues which bedevil Yemen as a whole. A recent article by Princeton scholar Gregory Johnsen set out in detail how a Yemeni boy aged 8 was used to plant a tracking beacon on a man who was later droned dead by the US government. Children are also the victims of US drone strikes, with the most recent suspected fatality just last month in Hadhramaut. The fate of Rimas emphasizes yet again that for some criminal segments in Yemen, there is no depravity which is beyond them.

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