A mother and child stand before a sandstorm that barrels across the landscape near the sprawling Abs settlement in Northeastern Yemen. This region is now home to thousands of displaced villagers who fled their homes near the Saudi border when the fighting erupted during the early summer of 2015. ABS, NORTH YEMEN - MAY 2017. © Giles Clarke

Yemen : Proxy War Turmoil

Giles Clarke

2017-2019 — Yemen

About this series

The building fury of a gathering storm took shape In the distance as a wall of swirling sand began to rise before me. The sky darkened while mushrooming grey clouds jostled above the ominous sandstorm. In this moment,I saw the plight of this beleaguered country unfolding: a turbulent scene that personified the chaotic struggle that is Yemen today. This was yet another powerful force, albeit a natural one, about to show its might and destruction as scurrying figures disappeared into their ragged tents -still torn and flapping from earlier piercing sand squalls.

Over the past five years, the people of Yemen have been continually battered by the storm of war and conflict. As heavyweight multinational powers vie for strategic power and political gain in the region, the Yemeni population have been strangled by the resulting violence, hunger, and extreme poverty. According to a 2019 report by Armed Conflict, Location and Event Data (ACLED), the death toll has reached over 90,000, with hundreds of thousands injured since the war began.

Yemen:Proxy War Turmoil captures poignant moments recorded during extensive assignments throughout the country from April 2017 to March 2019.
In the book, I concentrate not only on a region mired in deep struggle, but also on a people who still possess a deep-rooted tribal resilience born from centuries of defending their land from invasion and colonization.

A view of the Sarawat mountains located some 60 miles NW of Sana'a in the Houthi-controlled region of northern Yemen. APRIL 2017. © Giles Clarke
On the Sana'a to Hajjah road in the Marwat mountains at some 7,000 ft above sea level. MAY 2017. © Giles Clarke
© Giles Clarke
Abdu Abdullah Al Qanisi lives in Wadi Ahmad, close to Sana'a airport. Every day, Abdu comes to an UNHCR-supported centre for internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Sana'a, where he manages the parking lot for tips. The money he receives for this informal work helps him to support his family, which includes 14 children. Abdu fled here from an area called Sawad, when his house was destroyed by the conflict.© Giles Clarke
Abara, aged 12, watched by her mother in the Severe Acute Malnutrition ward of Al Sadawah Hospital. Abara was only 12.8kg when she was admitted to Al Sadaqah hospital on December 4 2018. She had been driven overnight from the embattled region of Al Hudaydah and was diagnosed with Severe Acute Malnutrition. She had been suffering from watery acute diarrhea for the past 10 weeks at the time of her admittance. Her family had spent weeks trying to negotiate safe passage across the front lines near their home of Al Hudaydah; a place where they could not receive treatment due to hostilities. After nearly 4 years of brutal war in Yemen, the scale of the humanitarian catastrophe in the country is staggering with babies and young children at most risk. The effects of this dire war-induced poverty coupled with the ballooning critical health crisis has now placed an unfathomable pressure on the few still-functioning children's hospitals. AL SADAQAH HOSPITAL. ADEN, YEMEN. DECEMBER 5, 2018. ©Giles Clarke
A sandstorm barrels over the landscape in Abs, northern Yemen. ABS, YEMEN - MAY 2017. © Giles Clarke
Displaced girl in Dar Saad, Aden. NOVEMBER 2017. © Giles Clarke
A man with his camel in the desert outside Aden in southern Yemen. NOVEMBER 2018. © Giles Clarke
Men buy and sell qat (khat) at a busy Sunday market located 20 km north of the Red Sea port of Al Hudaydah. Qat has taken over much of Yemen's agricultural sector, with farmers increasingly opting to grow the stimulant leaf over other crops - putting yet more pressure on dwindling food and water supplies. An estimated 40% of Yemen's water supply goes towards irrigating qat with much of the demand in the capital of Sana'a where dangerously low groundwater levels are reported. On the social level, the mildly addictive leaf continues to encourage an alarming void in family life as many Yemeni men chew qat on a daily basis, leaving the women and children to fend for themselves. AL HUDAYDAH, YEMEN - APRIL 2017. © Giles Clarke
A student at the Aal Okab school stands in the ruins of one of his former classrooms which was badly damaged during the conflict in June 2015. Students now attend lessons in UNICEF tents in a courtyard nearby. Over 2 million children throughout Yemen are currently out of school according to 2019 UN figures. SAADA CITY, YEMEN - APRIL 2017. © Giles Clarke
© Giles Clarke

Photographer: Giles Clarke
Nationality: British, UK
Based in: New York, USA
Website: www.gilesnclarke.com
Instagram: @clarkegiles

Giles Clarke is a photojournalist/traveller based in New York City and focusing on capturing the human face of current and post-conflict issues throughout the world. Since 2010, he has traveled to 70 countries, including multiple visits to cover the conflict in Yemen, from which he created the Proxy War Turmoil series.

Clarke’s work has been featured by The United Nations (OCHA), The New York Times, Amnesty International, CNN, The Guardian, Global Witness, TIME, The New Yorker, National Press Photographers Association, Paris Match, and many others. He was named The Imagely Fund Fellow for his work in Yemen in 2018, and was the Lucie Foundation’s ‘Deeper Perspective Photographer of the Year’ in 2017.