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Pictures | Tue Nov 13, 2012 | 1:05am IST

Yemen's untouchables

<p>A boy plays on a makeshift swing near a slum area of the Akhdam community, where he lives, in Yemen's western port city of Houdieda October 14, 2012. Yemeni Akhdam, or servants, are similar to hereditary castes, but are distinguished by their African features and the menial jobs they perform. Widespread prejudice places the Akhdam at the bottom of Yemen's social ladder. Asked about the origins of the Akhdam, Yemenis say they are descendants of Ethiopians who crossed the Red Sea to conquer Yemen before the arrival of Islam some 1,400 years ago - making them outsiders in their own country. Most live in slum areas in the outskirts of the capital Sanaa and other main cities. They reside in small huts haphazardly built of wood and cloth, without basic services such as running water, electricity and sewage networks. REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah </p>

A boy plays on a makeshift swing near a slum area of the Akhdam community, where he lives, in Yemen's western port city of Houdieda October 14, 2012. Yemeni Akhdam, or servants, are similar to hereditary castes, but are distinguished by their African...more

A boy plays on a makeshift swing near a slum area of the Akhdam community, where he lives, in Yemen's western port city of Houdieda October 14, 2012. Yemeni Akhdam, or servants, are similar to hereditary castes, but are distinguished by their African features and the menial jobs they perform. Widespread prejudice places the Akhdam at the bottom of Yemen's social ladder. Asked about the origins of the Akhdam, Yemenis say they are descendants of Ethiopians who crossed the Red Sea to conquer Yemen before the arrival of Islam some 1,400 years ago - making them outsiders in their own country. Most live in slum areas in the outskirts of the capital Sanaa and other main cities. They reside in small huts haphazardly built of wood and cloth, without basic services such as running water, electricity and sewage networks. REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah

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<p>Children from the Akhdam community play in a slum area in Sanaa October 24, 2012. REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah </p>

Children from the Akhdam community play in a slum area in Sanaa October 24, 2012. REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah

Children from the Akhdam community play in a slum area in Sanaa October 24, 2012. REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah

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<p>People are seen in their hut in a slum area of the Akhdam community in Yemen's western port city of Houdieda October 14, 2012. REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah</p>

People are seen in their hut in a slum area of the Akhdam community in Yemen's western port city of Houdieda October 14, 2012. REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah

People are seen in their hut in a slum area of the Akhdam community in Yemen's western port city of Houdieda October 14, 2012. REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah

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<p>A boy stands at the door of his family's hut in a slum area of the Akhdam community in Yemen's western port city of Houdieda October 14, 2012. REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah </p>

A boy stands at the door of his family's hut in a slum area of the Akhdam community in Yemen's western port city of Houdieda October 14, 2012. REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah

A boy stands at the door of his family's hut in a slum area of the Akhdam community in Yemen's western port city of Houdieda October 14, 2012. REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah

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<p>A poster of Yemen's former president Ali Abdullah Saleh hangs inside the hut of an Akhdam family in a slum area in Yemen's southwestern city of Taiz October 12, 2012. REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah</p>

A poster of Yemen's former president Ali Abdullah Saleh hangs inside the hut of an Akhdam family in a slum area in Yemen's southwestern city of Taiz October 12, 2012. REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah

A poster of Yemen's former president Ali Abdullah Saleh hangs inside the hut of an Akhdam family in a slum area in Yemen's southwestern city of Taiz October 12, 2012. REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah

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<p>A boy lies in a baby hammock in his family's hut in a slum area of the Akhdam community in Yemen's western port city of Houdieda October 14, 2012. REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah</p>

A boy lies in a baby hammock in his family's hut in a slum area of the Akhdam community in Yemen's western port city of Houdieda October 14, 2012. REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah

A boy lies in a baby hammock in his family's hut in a slum area of the Akhdam community in Yemen's western port city of Houdieda October 14, 2012. REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah

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<p>A woman from the Akhdam community applies traditional Henna dye on her husband's head in their hut at a slum area in Yemen's western port city of Houdieda October 15, 2012. REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah </p>

A woman from the Akhdam community applies traditional Henna dye on her husband's head in their hut at a slum area in Yemen's western port city of Houdieda October 15, 2012. REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah

A woman from the Akhdam community applies traditional Henna dye on her husband's head in their hut at a slum area in Yemen's western port city of Houdieda October 15, 2012. REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah

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<p>A woman applies traditional Henna dye on the legs of her daughters in their hut in a slum area of the Akhdam community near Sanaa October 24, 2012. REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah</p>

A woman applies traditional Henna dye on the legs of her daughters in their hut in a slum area of the Akhdam community near Sanaa October 24, 2012. REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah

A woman applies traditional Henna dye on the legs of her daughters in their hut in a slum area of the Akhdam community near Sanaa October 24, 2012. REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah

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<p>A man poses for a photo with his grandchildren in their hut in a slum area of the Akhdam community in Yemen's western port city of Houdieda October 15, 2012. REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah </p>

A man poses for a photo with his grandchildren in their hut in a slum area of the Akhdam community in Yemen's western port city of Houdieda October 15, 2012. REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah

A man poses for a photo with his grandchildren in their hut in a slum area of the Akhdam community in Yemen's western port city of Houdieda October 15, 2012. REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah

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<p>Women stand by the door of their hut in a slum area of the Akhdam community in Yemen's western port city of Houdieda October 14, 2012. REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah </p>

Women stand by the door of their hut in a slum area of the Akhdam community in Yemen's western port city of Houdieda October 14, 2012. REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah

Women stand by the door of their hut in a slum area of the Akhdam community in Yemen's western port city of Houdieda October 14, 2012. REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah

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<p>A woman and her granddaughter stand at the door of their hut in a slum area of the Akhdam community in Yemen's western port city of Houdieda October 14, 2012. REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah </p>

A woman and her granddaughter stand at the door of their hut in a slum area of the Akhdam community in Yemen's western port city of Houdieda October 14, 2012. REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah

A woman and her granddaughter stand at the door of their hut in a slum area of the Akhdam community in Yemen's western port city of Houdieda October 14, 2012. REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah

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<p>A woman from the Akhdam community holds her son in a slum area in Yemen's southwestern city of Taiz October 11, 2012.  REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah</p>

A woman from the Akhdam community holds her son in a slum area in Yemen's southwestern city of Taiz October 11, 2012. REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah

A woman from the Akhdam community holds her son in a slum area in Yemen's southwestern city of Taiz October 11, 2012. REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah

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<p>A girl collects water from a makeshift well at a slum area of the Akhdam community in Yemen's western port city of Houdieda October 14, 2012. REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah </p>

A girl collects water from a makeshift well at a slum area of the Akhdam community in Yemen's western port city of Houdieda October 14, 2012. REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah

A girl collects water from a makeshift well at a slum area of the Akhdam community in Yemen's western port city of Houdieda October 14, 2012. REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah

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<p>A man from the Akhdam community sleeps on the side of a street in Yemen's western port city of Houdieda October 16, 2012. REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah</p>

A man from the Akhdam community sleeps on the side of a street in Yemen's western port city of Houdieda October 16, 2012. REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah

A man from the Akhdam community sleeps on the side of a street in Yemen's western port city of Houdieda October 16, 2012. REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah

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<p>A girl carries a jerry can filled with water she collected from a makeshift well in a slum area of the Akhdam community in Yemen's western port city of Houdieda October 15, 2012.  REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah</p>

A girl carries a jerry can filled with water she collected from a makeshift well in a slum area of the Akhdam community in Yemen's western port city of Houdieda October 15, 2012. REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah

A girl carries a jerry can filled with water she collected from a makeshift well in a slum area of the Akhdam community in Yemen's western port city of Houdieda October 15, 2012. REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah

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<p>A man from the Akhdam community cooks chicken feet outside his hut in Yemen's western port city of Houdieda October 16, 2012. REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah</p>

A man from the Akhdam community cooks chicken feet outside his hut in Yemen's western port city of Houdieda October 16, 2012. REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah

A man from the Akhdam community cooks chicken feet outside his hut in Yemen's western port city of Houdieda October 16, 2012. REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah

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<p>Ahlam Salem, 15, moves in an ally in a slum area in Yemen's southwestern city of Taiz October 11, 2012. REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah</p>

Ahlam Salem, 15, moves in an ally in a slum area in Yemen's southwestern city of Taiz October 11, 2012. REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah

Ahlam Salem, 15, moves in an ally in a slum area in Yemen's southwestern city of Taiz October 11, 2012. REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah

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<p>A general view of a slum area of the Akhdam community in Sanaa October 24, 2012. REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah </p>

A general view of a slum area of the Akhdam community in Sanaa October 24, 2012. REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah

A general view of a slum area of the Akhdam community in Sanaa October 24, 2012. REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah

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<p>A boy stands at the door of his family's hut in a slum area in Yemen's western port city of Houdieda October 15, 2012. REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah </p>

A boy stands at the door of his family's hut in a slum area in Yemen's western port city of Houdieda October 15, 2012. REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah

A boy stands at the door of his family's hut in a slum area in Yemen's western port city of Houdieda October 15, 2012. REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah

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<p>Street cleaners from the Akhdam community collect garbage in Yemen's southwestern city of Taiz October 10, 2012. REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah </p>

Street cleaners from the Akhdam community collect garbage in Yemen's southwestern city of Taiz October 10, 2012. REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah

Street cleaners from the Akhdam community collect garbage in Yemen's southwestern city of Taiz October 10, 2012. REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah

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