June 24, 2011
By Haroon Mihtar
Press & Guide Newspapers
DEARBORN — The armed conflict in Yemen that has ravaged the Middle-Eastern nation for the past six months, costing the lives of hundreds and crippling the country’s fragile economy, is now affecting the lives of thousands of expatriates residing in the Dearborn area.
Many Yemeni Americans residing in Dearborn have families and homes in the war-torn nation and are facing an anxious uncertainty as they await the final outcome of the conflict that has pitted forces loyal to embattled, and injured, President Ali Abdullah Saleh, against an ever-growing opposition.
The conflict has seen the halt of travel to the impoverished nation by Americans, specifically hundreds of Dearborn residents, causing a blow to Yemen’s tourism.
The State Department recently issued a travel advisory urging Americans not to travel to Yemen and advising American citizens there to leave. The warning has not fallen on deaf ears to most of Dearborn’s Yemeni-American residents, consequently creating significant impact on some local travel businesses.
“The conflict has affected business by at least 75 percemt,” said Mohsin Hubaishi, owner and operator of Mid-East Travel in Dearborn. “This has been a disaster. No one wants to vacation to a potential war zone. It has affected our community in unimaginable ways.”
The conflict has also affected many aspects of the local import-export industry, specifically at places such as DHL, which hundreds of Yemeni-Americans rely on to send vital documents concerning pending immigration cases.
“We have taken a big hit. Business is down at least 70 percent and there is no end in sight,” said Salah Abdulla, manager of United Mail Center, a licensed shipping contractor for DHL located on Dix in Dearborn. “The situation is grim at best. The U.S. Embassy in Sana’a consular services are closed and the airport is intermittently open, so no one is sending documents, it’s a real mess,” added Abdulla.
The conflict has not limited its effect on local Dearborn residents to just economic woes, many Yemeni Americans are waiting for severely delayed immigration cases by the United States embassy in Sana’a, which has suspended consular services due to the turmoil.
Many Americans who are awaiting consular services for loved ones in Yemen have echoed a loud voice of frustration with the U.S. State Department for its lack of action in assisting them during the tumultuous times.
“I feel like I have been treated unfairly, I am a U.S. citizen and I cannot get a hold of anyone to help me,” says Sanad Affara, 26, a Dearborn resident whose wife’s immigration case has been delayed by the U.S. Embassy closing. Continued...