Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Racism, Qat, and IDPs

On my first day in Yemen, and before even leaving Beirut, adventure has started first with some racist Lebanese guy. At the airport a Lebanese worker (manager or something) in charge of the Yamenia flight was giving orders to some Yemeni passengers, speaking to them with superiority. I look around me and I find 3 workers helping the snobbish Lebanese women on the nearby Air France ticketing booth and none helping those poor Yemenis. I am sure that they take them for maids or something because they are black and skinny so the guy left them to place their heavy luggage on the trail on their own whereas 3 guys were helping that fatty Lebanese going to Paris. Suddenly he got notice of me and with surprise and full of respect he asks me where I am going. It seems that since I don't look Yemeni, the guy suspected I stood in the wrong line (as if saying what are you doing among those dirty people) and when I said Yemen, he said, please come forward and ordered the lady behind the contoir to make me pass first. I objected saying that those people were here before me so why should I bypass them? He said: I am helping you. I said: and why me, why don't you help them too? He said as if he did not really get what I am saying, so that you finish fast. I said: only because I am Lebanese (actually non Yemeni, non black) then my time is more precious? they came first, they pass first, and he still couldn't get that I am accusing him of racism and he still had this awe look on his face as if he doesn't understand why I would turn down his offer to help me and that I should be grateful instead! Why don't those Yemenis stand up for themselves anyway? Had there been someone else in my place, probably they wouldn't mind crossing over them and they would still not utter a word!

Other than that, two pictures remain of my first day in Yemen: The long line of people lined on the edge of street shewing qat and the many guys holding a khanjar (old authetic sword) on their belt and dressing like 6th century!

They also lost my luggage on the Yemeni airport and found it in transit!

Fries here are called chips. I should remember that. Tomorrow I am off to Harad in the north where it seems UNHCR is setting an IDP camp. More to come.

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