Abyan IDPs felt much better equipped to cope with the challenges ahead
Bassin Yasslam and his family were amongst more than 190,000 people who fled Abyan in 2011. He explained “We were guilty of nothing except living in the wrong place”.
In 2011, Ansar al-Sharia – otherwise known as Al Qaeda in the Arab Peninsula (AQAP) – took control of most areas in Abyan, and a fierce war between them and the government army began. Massive destruction in Zinjibar, the main city of Abyan, forced Bassam and his family, in fear for their lives, to leave their homes and businesses, and moved to Aden to escape from death. As an Internally Displaced Person (IDP) he lived with his parents and siblings in one room of a school. At the peak of displacement 79 schools in Aden became IDP refugees.
After ten months of displacement Bassam begun to despair. He had not been able to continue his studies in accountancy nor had he been able to find work. He yearned to complete his undergraduate studies or complete a diploma course.
- In 2011, AQAP took control of most areas in Abyan, and a fierce war between them and the government army began
- More than 190,000 people who fled Abyan in 2011.
- At the peak of displacement 79 schools in Aden became IDP refugees.
His friend informed him that the Small & micro enterprise promotion services (SMEPS) was offering professional courses in 14 specialties, as part of a project called ‘Emergency Assistance Project for Livelihoods Restoration of Abyan IDPs’, funded by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
Bassam immediately submitted an application to the project management, was interviewed, selected and enrolled in the electronics and mobile maintenance course. The course was short but intensive. After 40 days of training Bassam was lucky enough to find a job immediately, working for mobile phone repair shop. He was very proud and happy in his work and earned a monthly salary of approximately $250 with which he was able to cover his expenses and help support his family.
By the end of 2012, and the expulsion of AQAP by government forces from most of Abyan, Bassam and his family began to plan for their return home. Bassam had no illusions that life would be easy, “Most of our city has been destroyed and it will take years for us to build up what we have lost”.
However, on a personal note he felt much better equipped to cope with the challenges ahead. “Who would have thought that as an IDP I would learn a trade and get my first job," he said. “I never dreamt of becoming a mobile phone repair man but now I have those skills. It’s something that will be useful anywhere, there are mobile phones in Zinjibar even if there are no houses and, heaven forbid, if things turn bad again I can come back to Aden and earn a living again here”.