Yemen: Living under fire

Iftekar, who works with CARE in Yemen, engaging in her job of providing water resources to people in Aden before the airstrikes began.

Iftekar is a Hygiene Promotion specialist for CARE Yemen. Her role includes leading water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) activities in humanitarian programs in Aden, Abyan , Lahj and Amran and Hajja. The opinions expressed are solely those of the author.

Yemen (CNN)Since the fighting broke out in Yemen on March 25, my husband, five sons and I have been prisoners to our home.

We live in Enma City, 9 miles northwest of Aden, where the majority of the fighting is concentrated. The electricity is on and off -- sometimes for whole days at a time. When there is no electricity, there is also no water, so washing and cooking is a real challenge.
When the fighting first broke out, I was in Sanaa for a workshop. We were told we couldn't return to Aden because the airport was closed and it was too dangerous to travel by bus. I was so worried about my family's safety and was desperate to get back to them. After two excruciating days of waiting in Sanaa, I finally found a bus to take me back to Aden. With most people trying to flee from the violence in Aden, I was one of only three people on the bus and it was one of most terrifying experiences of my life. At each checkpoint we were stopped, and I begged the bus driver not to let the armed soldiers on the bus. I didn't know what might happen and I was so scared. I just kept thinking that I had to get back to my family, and thank God I made it safely.
At the moment, I am working from home as there has been no access to the CARE office which is located in central Aden, in the middle of the worst of the fighting. The store in front of our office was hit in the bombing and all the glass in the windows of our office was broken.
    Here in Enma City, we are staying in a small apartment on the third floor and can only go downstairs to buy a few small items. We can't move outside at all because of the airstrikes and shooting. I feel so isolated, like a prisoner sitting inside all day. The only outside contact I have is with the CARE security officer who I speak with twice a day to let him know we are safe, and a few other work phone calls.
    The fear of the unknown is consuming. Just last week there was an airstrike right near our house. All we could do was go down to the ground floor and wait. It's so hard because we just don't know what will happen. At any time the bombs can strike and fall anywhere. I have a small bag with my phone and laptop always ready by the door to run. Even when I am asleep I am ready to run. Just today (April 16) we heard lots of fighting and shooting and then a bomb fell between two apartments nearby so we are too afraid to go outside.
    Food is also becoming increasingly scarce and prices are soaring. There is no wheat flour, and no yogurt or milk. There are no fruit or vegetables inside the city as it all comes from the villages and the only main road into Aden is blocked, with no alternative route. My family is one of the lucky ones, as I always do a month's worth of shopping, so for now we have enough food. But not everyone is so lucky.
    Access to many of the areas where CARE was providing food assistance has been blocked, and we can no longer reach the people. In areas where the situation is not as bad we are still managing to carry out some of our activities like "food for work," water and sanitation services and nutrition awareness sessions. But there are so many people who are suffering, desperately in need of help and they cannot be reached.
    The fighting has been going on for more than 20 days now. Many people in Yemen were already needing humanitarian assistance, and it has been days since we have been able to get any help to them. Even CARE staff has been unable to collect our salaries because they have shut down the International Bank of Yemen in Crater. Luckily, CARE has found a way to still get us our salaries, but others who can't access the banks are in a dire situation.
    I don't know when the fighting will stop. I keep thinking tomorrow it will be fine, and then tomorrow comes and the airstrikes start again. I have been working with displaced people and, now I may become one. Things are unraveling so quickly and the needs are escalating at an alarming rate. This violence must come to an end quickly, because I fear this will turn into a catastrophe for Yemen.