Having grown up in the UK, war sometimes feels like a strange, distant reality. Despite learning about conflicts that have taken place during and even before my time, I’ve always felt pretty safe here. Outside of the (statistically small) threat of terrorist attacks on UK soil, we have the luxury of essentially ignoring the reality of wars taking place around the world. So much so, that the subject has even become a source of entertainment – war becomes something we can turn on and off. But for many young people living in conflict areas, it’s not so simple.
On the ground
For those unaware, the conflict in Yemen can be traced back to a political transitionary period following the uprising against president Ali Abdullah Saleh in 2011. While his departure was supposed to bring hope of more stability in the country, the opposite happened. Various groups began fighting for power, resulting in the start of a civil war in 2015. Since then, the conflict has intensified with government, rebel and militant groups staking claim to different areas of the country.
According to recent reports, over 90,000 people have been killed since 2015 and a further 11,000 have been injured. The conflict has placed Yemen in a state of humanitarian crisis, with over 24 million people in need of urgent aid, such as water, food and safety. The threat of famine and disease is continuing to grow everyday.
A childhood of war
It’s difficult to imagine what day-to-day life is like for people in Yemen, especially with a conflict that’s lasted so long. A representative from our partner in Yemen spoke to Tearfund reporter, Andrew Horton, about the impact the crisis is having on young people:
‘For many young people in Yemen they have always known war and conflict. What they are not familiar with is that this crisis is taking everything away that they could dream of.
They feel robbed of purpose and identity, and that is the biggest crisis. The war is also making them vulnerable and exposed to people who come with harmful ideologies and radicalism. So even though young people are open-minded and questioning, we’re also seeing some of them being radicalised and recruited into armed groups.’
Although we sometimes trivialise it, war isn’t just something to get a high score in or grab some popcorn for. The destruction of war is both physical and mental – destroying communities until people are left isolated and vulnerable. Fortunately Tearfund’s partner is continually working to restore hope among young people, with an aim to bring positive change to their nation.
A call to lament
As a young generation, we must remember to stand with our brothers and sisters who are struggling across the globe. For so long we have taken the Bible out of context and read it as a personal letter to us. We pick and choose what we deem relevant, squeezing and stretching scripture to fit into our daily concerns. But what if the Bible is written to a group of people? Throughout the Bible God is speaking to the oppressed who, like those young people in Yemen, have their very lives in danger every day. Are these not the people that Jesus came to bring freedom to? So in their cries for freedom, let us join them.
Throughout the Bible we find prayers of lamenting – deep anguish and longing for God to intervene. Whether it’s David asking for safety from King Saul or Jesus asking for an alternative plan in the garden of Gethsemane, these heartfelt prayers are a part of living out our faith. While we may not always feel the need to pray that way for ourselves, Romans 12:15 calls us to ‘rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those that weep’. So in standing together as a global community, let’s not allow war to become something we just scroll past. Instead let it be something that stops us in our tracks and causes us to turn to prayer.
We weep with those who are weeping in Yemen. Bring peace to this nation and restore hope to its people. Comfort the broken hearted and heal the sick. Thank you for the courage and commitment of our partners, who work in such challenging circumstances. Be a lamp to their feet, and a light to their path.
In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.
As the Yemen crisis grows worse by the moment, please also consider giving to the Yemen Appeal.