Haseba strife haunts residents
Al-Haseba district still languishes in a complex humanitarian situation. Although the bloody clashes of the last year have mostly drawn to a close, what those confrontations left behind is striking. Haseba, which used to be one of the liveliest districts in the capital city, is now quiet and empty.
Haseba residents are hurt and forgotten. Houses are uninhabited. Armed men are now commonplace features in the streets, and an awful stench has overtaken the neighborhood.
Abu Muataz Al-Wasabi has not forgotten all the damages his house in Haseba sustained due to the weapons confrontations between Sheikh Abdullah Bin Hussein Al-Ahmer’s sons, Central Security Forces and the Republican Guards. All the windows were destroyed. A considerable part of the house was subject to fractures because of heavy shelling in its vicinity. His shop was looted; all that was left behind the fridge, the television and various food items.
“We have never heard about the compensation committees following the war,” Al-Wasabi said. “It is as if nothing happened to this district.”
Sameer Al-Madhaji, a resident who resides near Al-Ahmer’s house, said, “Although the ceasefire was agreed on by the two sides, the barricades have not been completely removed yet from the streets, particularly those close to the house of Al-Ahmer. The armed men, loyal to Sheikh Al-Ahmer, are still spread.”
“Haseba residents still pay the price,” Al-Madhaji said. “We have nothing to do with this strife. We are still apprehensive about the war’s renewal. There are no assuring signs from the government or Al-Ahmer’s sons.”
Mohammed Al-Emad, a cafeteria owner, said the conflicting sides should have compensated Haseba residents because they were the reason behind the losses and the damages to property.
Street vendors and shopping center owners in Haseba said life has started again, albeit slowly. They said buying and selling momentum has improved during the daytime. However, they say, in the night, people disappear from the streets after 11 p.m. because they don’t feel safe.
Sadam Harith, another resident, said once the darkness approaches, pedestrians cannot be seen, even though it might only be 10 p.m. or earlier.
“The streets are free from pedestrians and cars in an intimidating and unprecedented way,” Harith said.
He indicated that those who still live in Haseba remain scared, particularly at night.
“Who will compensate all the victims whose houses were destroyed?” Harith asked. “The two conflicting sides appear apathetic to what happened. They agreed on a ceasefire, yet they made no mention of the victims, ending barricades and evacuating the armed men from the streets so that stability recovers and people go back their homes.”
Mohammed Nasser, a Haseba resident, said the schools are empty of students because last year the schools became outposts for armed men to set up their operations.
He said the latest confrontations between the Reinforcement Forces and the First Armored Division influenced some Haseba residents to again leave their homes and relocate to different neighborhoods.
The continuous fighting in Haseba left a deep injury to the psyche of the people; such situation makes anyone sympathetic. Poverty seems to center on many families because the strife exacerbated the situations, leaving casualties of life, property and livelihood. The situation remains difficult—especially for those who opted to stay in Haseba—but it is harder still when nobody is ready to help them rebuild.
“We have nobody to speak on our behalf,” Al-Emad said.