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As war enters 100th day, Yemenis share their anguish online

UN calls for ceasefire as conflict-stricken country's worsening humanitarian crisis leaves millions needing urgent help
This photo taken on 15 June, 2015 shows a view of the destruction in the UNESCO-listed heritage site in the old city of Yemeni capital Sanaa (AFP)

For residents of Yemen’s capital Sanaa, the 100th day of war in their country started in the same way as the previous 99: a rattle of anti-aircraft guns at dawn, followed by a series of huge explosions as Saudi jets pounded the city with airstrikes, shattering windows and sending flames rising into the sky.

“It felt like they (the Saudis) were sending us a message,” Osama al-Fatah, a Yemeni journalist, told MEE by phone from the capital.

“They're saying, 'The war isn’t over and it’s never going to end. We will keep bombing you until there is nothing left.'”

For Yemenis, the 100th day of the conflict between a coalition of mainly Gulf Arab states and Houthi rebels allied to Ali Abdullah Saleh, Yemen's ousted former president, is a grim reminder of the damage the fighting has done.

“If I don’t hear airstrikes after a few hours I start to feel strange,” said Fatima al-Kuraishi, a student in Sanaa, when asked how the war had affected daily life in the city.

“I can’t enjoy it because I know it’s not going to last.”

Friday’s bombing in Sanaa, along with continuing fighting in Aden, the southern port city currently besieged by Houthi fighters, came after the UN declared its highest level of humanitarian emergency in the country.

The UN said on Thursday that about 3,000 Yemenis had so far been killed and more than a million displaced by the conflict, with 21 million people needing immediate help.

Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary-general, also called for an immediate pause in hostilities until the end of the holy month of Ramadan to allow for humanitarian supplies to be delivered to communities cut off by months of fighting. 

On Twitter, Yemeni bloggers and activists posted online dispatches with the hashtag '#100days' to share their anguish over the growing toll of the conflict.

The Saudi-led coalition says its aim is to reinstate Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi, the exiled ex-president who is currently residing in Riyadh.

Others bemoaned the destruction of Yemen's historical sites. UNESCO said in May that the Old City of Sanaa, a world heritage site, had been bombed, and that the old city of Saada, which Yemen has listed for consideration for UNESCO heritage status, had also been damaged in strikes.