Zein Ahmed plans to travel to Djibouti on Dec. 24 to give resources to refugees with the money she has raised. Photo: Courtersy of Zaki Ahmed.
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Initiative expected to raise $8,000 by December 2016

Zein Ahmed, a fourth-year biomedical sciences student at the University of Ottawa, wants to make a difference in the lives of Yemeni refugees settling in Djibouti—and to do so, she’s started a fundraiser that will run until Dec. 22.

“For a while I’ve been thinking of just doing something, heading to Yemen trying to help them out,” Ahmed told the Fulcrum. “But unfortunately, due to the crises, they shut down all airports, so no commercial sites are accepted.”

The  Yemen Civil War has claimed over 10,000 lives since it started a year and half ago, and it has also forced 120,000 people to flee to neighbouring countries such as Ethiopia, Somalia, and Djibouti.

Of these 120,000 refugees, 35,000 Yemeni citizens have found refuge in Djibouti due to its proximity to their home country, and approximately 3,000 have been placed in a refugee camp in a town named Obock.

After doing some research, Ahmed learned about the refugee camp in Obock and decided to start a fundraiser by reaching out to the United Nations Refugee Agency in Djibouti. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Canada has also helped Ahmed get in contact with representatives at the camp to inform her about logistics and travel plans.

Ahmed plans on flying to Djibouti on Dec. 24, and she hopes to raise $8,000 by Dec. 22.

In the meantime, Ahmed has already planned out how she will distribute the funds and supply refugees with resources.

“Out of the $8,000 I will use a portion to buy medication here … just to be safe. I would rather buy medication here because we can’t play with people’s health—it’s a moral issue as well.”

Other supplies such as food, clothing, toys, and educational items will be purchased in Djibouti.
Through this fundraiser Ahmed also wants to raise awareness on the crisis in Yemen, because she believes it is not getting enough coverage in the mainstream media.

“Yemen is a country that is sustained on its own, so there are no resources it gives out to the Western world,” said Ahmed. “Yemen is a country that lives on its own, on its own resources and I feel that is a big issue and the reason why it hasn’t been going on the news lately, or even before the war started.”

According to Ahmed, the lack of awareness about the crisis in Yemen has proven to be one of the challenges facing her fundraising initiatives.

“It saddens me to the point where even when I started the fundraiser people asked ‘What is happening in Yemen?’ or ‘Where is Yemen?’ They were questioning the country and honestly I don’t blame them at all, because it’s all up to the media.”

While raising $8,000 is definitely an important part of her campaign, Ahmed said that raising awareness about this ongoing conflict will hopefully have a longer lasting impact.

“Once they are informed, the best thing they can do is not only donate to the fundraiser, but also spread the message that this is happening in this country. We have to do something about it.”

If you would like to donate to Ahmed’s fundraiser, please visit her Go Fund Me page.