Chasing Safety | HuffPost

Adrian Ovalle

Illustration by Patrycja Podkościelny

Osamah Mahyoub wasn’t at all times a person on the run, or the goal of a murderous insurgent group. He used to reside a snug life in Taiz, a metropolis in Yemen with chocolate-brown masonry and a few of the most interesting espresso on the earth. He was a contented youngster who performed soccer all day lengthy together with his favourite cousins, Abdelsalam and Jamil. Generally, if the cousins promised to be good, they have been allowed to go to the market with Mahyoub’s uncle, a neighborhood imam, to purchase mangoes, tomatoes and onions. Soccer, cousins, the market. Comfortable recollections.  

When Mahyoub grew up, he studied accounting at a neighborhood faculty and was making residing at it till his home grew to become the setting of a brand new story: a bloody, unending warfare.

Taiz grew to become a metropolis of snipers, and Mahyoub grew to become a goal. In March 2015, when Mahyoub was 27 years previous, the Houthis, an Iran-backed insurgent group, captured Taiz. Members of the group demanded that Mahyoub’s uncle surrender his home within the mountains in order that it could possibly be used as a launch web site for his or her airstrikes. His uncle refused. So the Houthis bombed his uncle’s home, then Mahyoub’s home. In the event that they couldn’t have it, nobody might.

Mahyoub and his family survived the bombing and escaped to kin close by, however they weren’t protected. As a result of his uncle had stood as much as the rebels, they’d enemies. And though the rebels needed revenge, additionally they needed new recruits. They provided Mahyoub a selection: be a part of them in change for his and his family’s safety, or die. With out hesitation, he refused their provide, as a substitute taking part in peaceable protests and persuading others within the metropolis to reject the insurgent group. The rebels threatened to kill him. With nowhere to cover, Mahyoub fled to the close by nation of Djibouti. 

However the Houthis caught up with their targets in Yemen. They murdered Mahyoub’s cousin Abdulsalam in June; they discovered and killed Jamil the next month. Extra cousins have been picked off over the next few months and years. In complete, Mahyoub misplaced seven members of his family, in line with death certificates and authorized paperwork reviewed by HuffPost. In 2016, his brother was shot by Houthis and misplaced his leg to gangrene.

Quickly the death threats adopted Mahyoub to Djibouti. After residing and dealing there for 3 years as an accountant, the insurgent group discovered him on Facebook. They knew the place he was. 

The Worst Humanitarian Disaster In The World

The United Nations estimates more than 10,000 folks have been killed in Yemen because the start of the warfare, but in addition that that quantity is probably going far greater. Greater than 24 million individuals are in want of humanitarian help inside Yemen. Households are pressured to flee their houses, many with simply the garments on their again, and cross deserts and mountains. Airstrikes have crumbled colleges, and more than 130 medical services have been attacked. Yemen was one of many world’s poorest countries earlier than the warfare and largely relied on imports for meals and medication. The warfare demolished any remaining hope for its folks.

There are each day experiences of civilian casualties, or of individuals dying from preventable illnesses or not having sufficient meals, mentioned Shabia Mantoo, a spokesperson for the United Nations Excessive Commissioner for Refugees. Mantoo visited Yemen in 2017 and 2018, seeing firsthand the dire scenario contained in the nation. Greater than 2 million youngsters underneath the age of 5 have been labeled as acutely malnourished. Poor sanitation and waterborne illnesses comparable to cholera have contaminated more than one million folks and left a whole lot of others dead. 

Left: Taiz earlier than 2015. Proper: Buildings in Taiz demolished after bombings in 2015.

Greater than three million Yemenis had been displaced by the continued battle as of final yr, and over 65,000 Yemenis had fled the nation totally. Few countries have offered reduction for these refugees, together with america; President Donald Trump signed an govt order in 2017 that barred entry to the U.S. from a number of Muslim-majority countries, together with Yemen. The U.S. closed itself to Yemenis despite its personal complicity within the warfare there: It has offered billions of {dollars} in weaponry and intelligence assist to Saudi Arabia, which backs the Yemeni authorities, additional escalating the worst humanitarian catastrophe on the earth. There was little to no progress to finish the warfare, and worldwide teams together with the U.N. have accused each Saudi Arabia and the Houthi rebels of committing warfare crimes.

People like Mahyoub are paying the worth.

Blacklisted Pals

In Djibouti in 2015, Mahyoub met Emad Al-Azabi, a 34-year-old Yemeni nationwide from Taiz. Al-Azabi had additionally defied the Houthi rule of his home metropolis and had fled to guard himself. 

One yr earlier than, Al-Azabi had been alleged to graduate faculty with a level in English. He and his pals drove over six hours from his hometown to Sana’a, the nation’s capital, for the ceremony. However combating broke out between authorities forces and the armed Houthi militia group that day. Because the capital burned and the Houthis seized management of the prime minister’s office, the state tv channels and the military headquarters, Al-Azabi and his pals headed home, solely to find Taiz had additionally fallen to the rebels. 

Troopers have been soon within the streets, calling on folks to hitch the armed militia in change for money and safety. Al-Azabi pleaded with folks to not be a part of the group, and simply like Mahyoub, he and his family grew to become targets for talking up. Al-Azabi was pressured to flee to Djibouti, the place he was capable of finding work as a translator.

A number of members of Al-Azabi’s family have been killed within the warfare. His uncle, a soldier, was killed in August 2015; a cousin, a military peacekeeping member, was killed the next summer time. One other cousin, a lieutenant, was killed by shrapnel from an IED bomb a yr later. Al-Azabi had been in Djibouti for 3 years when he thought it was protected to return to Yemen and go to his mom. However again home, it shortly grew to become clear that the Houthis nonetheless needed him dead.

Out of the blue, each men wanted to flee.

Nowhere Secure

The men set their eyes on Ecuador, which permits visa-free entries for practically any international nationwide from any nation on the earth. Al-Azabi arrived in Quito in 2017, after a short cease in Egypt. Mahyoub adopted him in January 2018. 

Life was good in Quito. The men devoted themselves to creating the town their new home. On his second day within the nation, Al-Azabi strolled down the streets, looking for comparable faces when he got here throughout two Center Japanese eating places, one Egyptian and one Lebanese. There, he met Arabic-speaking nationals, and soon his network grew. Very quickly, the men secured work at a neighborhood Yemeni-owned mini-market, the place they discovered a small hub of different Yemeni refugees. On their days off, they loved the nice and cozy weather, swam and performed soccer.

Al-Azabi obtained in contact together with his dad and Abdullah, a cousin from New York who visited Ecuador for 2 weeks in April 2019. Abdullah went sightseeing with Al-Azabi and Mahyoub in Quito and the port ciry of Manta, which reminded them of Taiz earlier than the warfare.

“I was so happy for them,” Abdullah instructed HuffPost. “They were in a safe place.”

However hassle soon adopted. Mahyoub was enjoying pool at a neighborhood bar in the future in June 2019 when 5 Yemenis entered. The men pressured Mahyoub out into the streets and started to beat him. Police officers intervened and broke up the struggle, however no arrests have been made. Mahyoub realized that even in Ecuador, 1000’s of miles from Taiz, his life was nonetheless in danger.

He and Al-Azabi misplaced their jobs to different employees who accepted decrease wages. Cash was working out and their vacationer visas had expired. Then they heard a couple of plan for America.

Abdullah, Emad Al-Azabi’s cousin, stands together with his nephew on the balcony of his home in Queens, New York City, in April. 

The Longest Street

Over the previous few years, migration and immigration consultants have witnessed the rise of a rare phenomenon known as “extra-continental migrants,” a time period that refers to people who’ve tried to come back to america by touring throughout a number of continents.  

With the lax immigration legal guidelines in South America and European countries shutting down their borders, refugees and migrants fleeing the Center East have been pressured to look westward. For a lot of migrants and refugees, it’s arguably cheaper and fewer harmful to cross the South American continent to america than it’s to embark on a dangerous boat journey throughout the Mediterranean Sea to Europe.

Though most migrants apprehended on the U.S.-Mexico borders are from Central America or Mexico — practically than 700,000 throughout the 2019 fiscal yr — there was a rise of migrants from different continents. In line with the Migration Policy Unit of Mexico, more than 670,000 migrants from Asia entered Mexico via authorized ports of entry throughout 2019 and more than 675,000 did so in 2018. Customs and Border Safety apprehended practically 7,000 folks from India, 1,200 from Bangladesh, and 600 from the Democratic Republic of Congo throughout the 2019 fiscal yr. It apprehended 34 Yemenis that very same yr.  

Migrants and asylum-seekers from these countries face distinctive challenges. It takes longer to finish their journeys in comparison with their Central American counterparts, and lots of face language limitations inside Mexico and are pressured to depend on smugglers for info. Migrants from the Center East, India and components of Africa are a really particular group with very completely different wants, mentioned Estela Aragon, a researcher on the International Group for Migration. 

Many don’t make it. However for many who do, the challenges don’t finish after they arrive within the U.S.

Embarking On Mission Unattainable

On a heat July night in 2019, Mahyoub and Al-Azabi left for the lengthy journey north with about $2,000 in financial savings and a backpack full of meals. They have been joined by 4 different migrants and refugees ― three Yemenis and one Sudanese. The group mapped out a route that may take them alongside the Pan-American Freeway, the longest highway on the earth. From Ecuador, Mahyoub and Al-Azabi would go to Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala and Mexico earlier than lastly arriving on the U.S. border in Texas.

In Quito, the men had heard of others leaving for the U.S. They heard tales about lengthy journeys ending in safety, that the U.S. would defend them from murderous insurgent teams, from being pressured to return to a rustic at warfare. They heard they might go to the U.S. and start over. Al-Azabi didn’t inform his father in New York that he was making the journey. He didn’t need him to fret. 

First, the men launched into a bus from Quito. Three bus rides and 10 days later, they arrived on the Colombian-Ecuadorian border at daybreak. The immigration officers hadn’t arrived at their shifts but, so the men stored on strolling throughout the border. Attending to Colombia was the straightforward half, and probably the most harmful and longest a part of their journey was up next.  

Aerial view of the La Penita indigenous village in Panama. Migrants cross the border between Colombia and Panama via the Darien Hole.

Mahyoub and Al-Azabi knew that trekking via the Darien Hole was going to be tough, however they’d no concept it might kill them. The Hole, which connects the North and South American continents and is usually used to cross between Colombia and Panama, is over 60 miles of swamps, jungles and mountains, in addition to toxic vegetation, venomous snakes and different hostile wildlife. It’s also the proper cowl for drug smugglers, human traffickers and paramilitary teams which have lengthy claimed this lawless area as a home the place something goes. But tens of 1000’s of determined refugees and migrants from Cuba, Africa and Asia danger their lives yearly to cross it. 

Below the quilt of the jungle, the Yemeni men and their group crossed illegally from South America to Central America, paying smugglers usually generally known as coyotes alongside the best way. The men hiked via the thick jungles for seven days straight, 12 hours a day. At evening, they normally slept in tents. But when the land was too harmful, they climbed into the timber and slept in branches to cover from harmful wildlife and even more harmful men. Midway via their week-long trek, gunmen stopped the group and demanded money. Afraid for his or her lives, Mahyoub and Al-Azabi gave up just a few hundred {dollars} and their cellphones, virtually all the things they’d. Along with the hazards posed by the jungle and smugglers, the polluted river meant no washing and no consuming. There have been no protected stops to relaxation. Regardless of how drained, they have been pressured to maintain strolling. Mahyoub and Al-Azabi mentioned they noticed 5 corpses alongside the best way. They prayed they might not turn out to be considered one of them.

“If I knew that the trip was going to be what I had experienced, I would have never gone,” Mahyoub mentioned. “I pray that no one ever experiences this.” 

Detained In Panama

After surviving probably the most harmful a part of the journey, Mahyoub and Al-Azabi have been instantly apprehended by members of the Panamanian border patrol. Panama’s small measurement, in addition to its established immigration partnerships with Colombia, Costa Rica and america, permits it to observe and management the inflow of migrants. Panama’s National Border Service permits 100 migrants to maneuver via its nation daily, and shuttles them from its most southern border to the northern border at Costa Rica. Those that don’t make that day’s minimize are housed in processing facilities till it’s their flip.

Some consultants say the processing heart wait is a profit for migrants, as they don’t must depend on smugglers for that portion of the journey.

“But it pays off for the Panamanian authorities because they can be sure that migrants aren’t necessarily staying in their country,” mentioned Jessica Bolter, an affiliate coverage analyst on the Migration Policy Institute.

Mahyoub and Al-Azabi have been detained for 55 days amongst 1000’s of different migrants of all races and backgrounds — together with girls and kids — the place they acquired primary providers comparable to meals, shelter and medical help. The men stayed in out of doors services that they described as overcrowded and missing correct bogs and working water. They ate rice and greens offered by the authorities. There was not a lot to do however wait. To pass the time, they took naps within the afternoon, conversed with different Arabic-speaking migrants, and regained their power for the next leg of their journey. 

Ultimately, their flip got here they usually have been placed on a bus to Costa Rica.  

International Crackdown On Immigration

As soon as the bus arrived on the border of Costa Rica, Mahyoub and Al-Azabi have been shuffled to a different immigration facility. Costa Rican officers questioned the men extensively. Then the routine continued: bus journey, adopted by an immigration go to and detention stops, paying charges, after which one other bus journey to the next nation. Journey and repeat.

They handed via Nicaragua, the place Mahyoub and Al-Azabi have been pressured to camp outside within the streets with different migrants ready for immigration officers to name their names and verify their passports. Two days later, they have been positioned on yet one more bus to their next vacation spot: Honduras.

Whereas passing via transit countries, migrants must cross into countries with completely different migration insurance policies. Some borders may be crossed repeatedly, however others are crossed irregularly by migrants who usually depend on smugglers. Mahyoub and Al-Azabi paid smugglers for seats on the bus that may get them via Honduras and Guatemala. Almost 70% of migrants who cross the Mexico-Guatemala border journey with coyotes.

Osama Mahyoub, backside left, and Emad Al-Azabi, high left, together with images from their time residing in Ecuador.

After they lastly arrived in Mexico in October, the affect of Trump’s changes put a short lived halt on their journey. Only a few months prior, Trump had signed an settlement with Mexico to cut back the move of migrants. Mexico deployed 1000’s of guard members at its border crossings with Guatemala within the south and alongside the U.S. border up north. Within the weeks following the deal, the Trump administration introduced a 28% drop in people detained on the U.S.-Mexico border.

On the similar time, the variety of Yemeni nationals migrating to or via Mexico was climbing. Through the 2019 fiscal yr, Mexican authorities apprehended 62 Yemeni nationals both at its borders or contained in the nation, in line with knowledge offered by the Migration Policy Institute, in comparison with 46 nationals throughout the 2018 fiscal yr and 27 throughout the 2017 fiscal yr. Between 2000 and 2017, by comparability, the biggest variety of Yemeni nationals apprehended in Mexico in any yr was three. 

Mayhoub and Al-Azabi have been caught. For one month, they waited in Monterrey, Mexico, determined to make their final crossing into america. 

‘America Isn’t Paradise’

It was practically midnight when Mahyoub and Al-Azabi made it to the U.S. border, however even the evening’s darkness couldn’t cloud their pleasure. A rush of reduction and pleasure washed over them as they obtained off their final bus journey in Mexico and walked into Texas. The thrill was transient. Inside a couple of minutes of touching U.S. soil, the men have been apprehended by border patrol and brought to the San Antonio detention heart. Upon their arrival, they confronted a brand new onslaught of challenges, together with navigating advanced immigration legal guidelines, language limitations and lawsuits. 

“I was so happy at first when I entered America, but then I immediately regretted it,” Mahyoub mentioned. 

Mahyoub and Al-Azabi have been held by U.S. immigration officers since arriving within the U.S. on Nov. 28, 2019. A migrant can request asylum at both a port of entry or after they enter the U.S. The first step in that course of is a gathering with an asylum officer, who determines whether or not that particular person has a “credible fear” of persecution or torture again of their nation of origin. As they wait for his or her immigration hearings, people are both launched on parole or taken to an Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention heart. Asylum officers decided neither Mahyoub nor Al-Azabi had credible worry of returning to their home countries. Their attorneys appealed the choices, however that was denied in March as nicely. 

A spokesperson for the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Companies declined to comment, saying it was the company’s “practice not to comment on individual cases” and that “asylum records are confidential under immigration law.” ICE declined to comment on the potential for deportation.   

Mahyoub and Al-Azabi consider deportation could be a death sentence. 

The Maze Of The Immigration System

The U.S. authorities has acknowledged the danger dealing with folks returned to Yemen. About 1,500 Yemeni nationals who’ve been residing within the U.S. since 2015 are protected by Short-term Protected Standing –– a program that permits people already residing contained in the U.S. to obtain safety as a result of their home nation has been deemed too unsafe to return to, or as a result of it will not be capable of adequately take them again.

The program, which is up for renewal each 18 months and was simply renewed earlier this yr, excludes 1000’s of different Yemenis who’re in danger for deportation as a result of they entered the U.S. after the cutoff date. Earlier this yr, the U.S. deported a Yemeni photographer with out warning again to Yemen, nonetheless a warfare zone, prompting widespread concern for different Yemenis contained in the nation who worry the same destiny.

Since Oct. 1, 2017, the U.S. has accepted solely 5 Yemenis via the refugee resettlement program, during which individuals are accepted to come back to the U.S. earlier than they make the journey. (Those that arrive on the border, like Mahyoub, can search asylum, not refugee standing.) In 2018 and 2019, the U.S. hasn’t accepted any Yemeni refugees, primarily attributable to Trump’s journey ban.

“A lot of Yemeni migrants and refugees are being judged, or there are preconceived misconceptions that Yemenis are terrorists or they pose as a security risk to the United States,” mentioned Assma Ali, a Mississippi-based immigration lawyer who represents Mahyoub. 

“Yemenis are being persecuted and there’s evidence of them being persecuted in Yemen, and the U.S. is slamming the door on them and not allowing them to file for protection from the United States,” Ali mentioned. “They are not believing them. There is no way you can disagree, there isn’t a threat to his life.”

Modifications applied by the Trump administration have solely made it tougher for migrants to obtain asylum on the border, together with severely limiting entry to asylum claims and making it tougher for migrants to show a worry of persecution or torture if returned ― particularly when they don’t seem to be being given the chance to take action in a courtroom. In July 2019, when Mahyoub and Al Azabi have been simply beginning their journey from Quito, the Trump administration additionally introduced one other new rule change: Migrants who traveled via one other nation earlier than reaching the U.S. and didn’t apply for asylum in these countries couldn’t achieve this within the U.S.

A federal choose quickly blocked this transit ban, the so-called asylum ban 2.0. However in September, the Supreme Courtroom dominated the ban can take impact whereas a authorized problem towards it really works its means via the courts. That implies that those that don’t pass an affordable worry interview ― folks like Mahyoub and Al-Azabi, doubtlessly ― may be swiftly deported. (The preliminary interviews for asylum known as credible worry, whereas asking for the withholding of removing known as cheap worry. Assembly the standards for an affordable worry interview is greater than credible worry.)

I remorse all of it. If I knew this was going to occur to me, I’d have by no means come.
Osamah Mahyoub

Within the present setting, it’s virtually inconceivable for folks to persuade officers that they’re afraid of being returned to their nation, mentioned Kate Richardson, an legal professional on the Refugee and Immigrant Middle for Training and Authorized Companies.

Those that are allowed to proceed the method to hunt protections are subjected to a slew of restrictions. They’re eligible for under two very restricted types of safety towards deportation: withholding of removing, and safety underneath the Conference In opposition to Torture. Not like asylum, which is just granted after passing a reputable worry interview, the person can by no means purchase a inexperienced card or turn out to be a U.S. citizen. If the situations of their home nation changes, their protections may be terminated.

If granted asylum in a best-case state of affairs, Mahyoub and Al-Azabi would by no means get a inexperienced card or U.S. citizenship, and their lives would at all times be within the palms of immigration officers.

In one other win for the Trump administration, in March the Supreme Courtroom dominated in favor of the Migrant Safety Protocols, a controversial immigration program that permits U.S. border officers to return non-Mexican asylum-seekers again to Mexico as they wait for his or her day in U.S. immigration courtroom. Now, more than 66,000 asylum-seekers are stranded in Mexico, pressured to attend months or years for his or her circumstances to be determined within the US. Lower than 0.1% of asylum claims have been granted because the implementation of the program.

Mahyoub and Al-Azabi are in limbo.

Operating Out Of Time

Life contained in the San Antonio Detention Middle was tough.

Mahyoub and Al-Azabi have been housed with practically 100 folks inside the ability. They discovered consolation with one another’s presence. Al-Azabi, who speaks Arabic, English and Spanish, translated for his good friend usually. However more often than not, they tried to maintain to themselves. Mahyoub mentioned guards on the facility taunted him due to his Muslim religion and Arab background, mocking his title. They known as him “Bin Laden.” Additionally they referred to him as “Taliban” each time they needed his consideration, drawing stares and considerations from fellow detainees.

In February, Mahyoub was separated from Al-Azabi ― his good friend, his connection to home, his lifeline. Immigration officers moved him to Adams County Detention Middle in Mississippi, the place he has been held ever since. He has nobody to translate for him, and the detention heart has offered no translation providers. He broke into tears when he discovered about his relocation, afraid of being other than the one man who actually is aware of him.  

“I didn’t expect America to treat us this way,” Mahyoub mentioned. “I can’t go on like this.”

An ICE spokesperson mentioned the company “does not tolerate any mistreatment including verbal abuse of people in its custody” and offers detainees channels to boost considerations. The company additionally famous that it offers interpretation and translation for folks with restricted English proficiency.

The unfold of the coronavirus outbreak threatens each the well being and safety of Mahyoub and Al-Azabi of their respective detention services. In April, Al-Azabi and the remainder of the detainees got face masks as a precautionary measure in an effort to stop the unfold of COVID-19. Al-Azabi used to have the ability to go outside with the opposite detainees and play soccer, however that one hour of freedom has been taken away due to the pandemic. He’s anxious an outbreak might occur at any second and would unfold in such tight quarters.  

Al-Azabi’s father, who lives in New York City and wasn’t conscious of the journey his son took, was devastated when he discovered about his son’s present scenario. 

“I tell my son America isn’t paradise,” mentioned 59-year-old Abu Emad. HuffPost is withholding Abu Emad’s actual title and referring to him with a time period that interprets to the “father of Emad” as a result of he’s an undocumented resident.

Abu Emad mentioned he regrets that his son ever left Ecuador. If he knew Al-Azabi was planning to make the journey, he would have instructed him to not go. Abu Emad, who’s affected by kidney failure, additionally examined constructive for COVID-19 in April. With out correct care, his situation continues to worsen. Al-Azabi’s cousin, Abdullah, takes care of him. They each hope that Al-Azabi will come home to them soon.

“I’m afraid for my son. If they deport him, it will be the end of him,” Abu Emad instructed HuffPost. 

Emad’s father posing for a portrait in his neighborhood in Queens, New York City, on April 27.

Al-Azabi is regretful. He mentioned he feels devastated by the inflexible immigration system that’s failing him.

“Every day I hear new bad news. A friend who was killed or a relative who was killed. When I call my parents, my mom cries and cries. I can’t handle her calls anymore,” Al-Azabi mentioned from the detention heart in a name in April. 

For over two months, I’ve spoken to Mahyoub and Al-Azabi practically daily. Earlier than the coronavirus pandemic, they have been hopeful. They talked about what their new lives would look like in America. They each need to transfer to New York City, the place over 50,000 Yemenis reside. They have been keen to search out work and start a brand new life amongst fellow Arab Muslims, to have a neighborhood. We mentioned our respective households. They needed to listen to about mine however grew quiet once I requested about theirs. They appeared to really feel disgrace about their present predicament. However principally, they have been deeply unhappy that they might by no means see their family members once more. They’re now fasting for Ramadan, a time that normally brings family and neighborhood collectively, they usually really feel a selected loneliness. Mahyoub instructed me I’m the one particular person on his name list. He has nobody else.   

With out Mayhoub, Al-Azabi spends his days writing. He writes concerning the journey throughout South America, the issues he has seen, and the folks he has met. He hopes to publish a memoir in the future.

“What I know of America is that it is the country of freedom and justice and the country for everyone, but when I got here I was shocked,” Al-Azabi mentioned.

Two weeks in the past, Mahyoub developed cold-like signs; he’s gravely anxious a couple of possible coronavirus outbreak the place he’s. He now wonders if the journey to America was worth it.

“I regret all of it,” he mentioned.  “If I knew this was going to happen to me, I would have never come.”

For now, he’s in limbo and praying that the U.S., which is complicit in demolishing his home nation, will give him a chance at life. He could possibly be deported any day. 

“I can’t return to Yemen because my life is in danger. Where would I go in Yemen? Our homes are destroyed,” Mahyoub mentioned. “If I return, I would be forced to carry arms, and I refuse to carry arms. I reject violence of any kind.”

The thought of returning again to a warfare zone is unfathomable, he mentioned. He has no home to return to. His family members are barely escaping death, between the each day bombs and the Houthis’ threats. If enduring the warfare in Yemen, the threats in Djibouti, and the journey throughout South America has taught him something, it’s that he has a knack for surviving. He prays God is on his side one more time.

“I am only asking for safety,” Mahyoub mentioned. “This is my last chance.”

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