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Taiz is a frontline city caught up in the conflict in Yemen


Now a look at a front-line city in the conflict in Yemen. The country's been ravaged by civil war for nearly a decade since militants backed by Iran ousted the government from the capital. Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates then sent troops and planes to back the government, turning Yemen into the site of a regional proxy war. And it's stolen the lives of thousands of civilians and created one of the world's worst humanitarian crises. NPR's Fatma Tanis is in the divided city of Taiz for a rare look inside the country.

Fatma, give us a sense of what it's like there. What are you seeing?

FATMA TANIS, BYLINE: Well, the conditions are really tough here. The city is divided, as you mentioned, and the Iran-backed militia known as the Houthis are in the north and east, where most of the jobs and factories are. The rest, including where I am now, is controlled by the Saudi-backed coalition. And many Yemenis here are struggling to find food. There are frequent and long power outages. The water isn't clean. There's a risk of cholera. Salaries aren't getting paid. We've also heard some shots here, too. And residents say while the worst of the fighting has died down, sniping is still going on in some neighborhoods.

FADEL: I mean, nine years - how are people coping with this ongoing war?

TANIS: They've been living with fear the whole time. There are berms all around the city that are often the only thing protecting citizens from snipers coming from the Houthi side. There have also been, you know, Saudi airstrikes over the years in the area, and they cause many civilian deaths. I was in one front-line neighborhood that sees frequent sniper attacks where I met an older woman who was afraid to give her name because she lives so close to the Houthi side. She showed me her foot where she was shot as she was walking to her home a few months ago.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: (Non-English language spoken).

TANIS: She has to walk that same path every day in fear, she says, and doesn't feel safe for a moment living here, but has no means to move elsewhere.

FADEL: So is there an end in sight for her? I mean, where does the fighting stand at this moment?

TANIS: Well, there's a stalemate right now, ever since peace talks between the Houthis and the Saudis started last year. But it's not really set in stone yet. So people are very skeptical. I spoke with a 26-year-old coalition soldier named Mohammed Fahad al-Shabani (ph) who lost his leg in a Houthi-planted mine. Here's what he said.

MOHAMMED FAHAD AL-SHABANI: (Non-English language spoken).

TANIS: Like many other Yemenis I spoke with, he feels that the negotiating parties are just looking out for themselves and not the people of Yemen and doesn't believe that ending the war will end the suffering of people here.

FADEL: That's NPR's Fatma Tanis in Taiz, Yemen.

Thank you so much, Fatma.

TANIS: Thank you, Leila. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Leila Fadel is a national correspondent for NPR based in Los Angeles, covering issues of culture, diversity, and race.

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