As a consequence of the fighting between the Houthis, the Saudi led-coalition and al-Qaida, 28 journalists have died in Yemen since 2007, three of whom have been killed this year. In addition, 50 journalists have been kidnapped or arrested, mostly by the Houthis, and nine were tortured in 2017, according to IFJ and its affiliate, the Yemeni Journalists Syndicate (YJS).
The ongoing conflict in Yemen, which started in 2015, is often called a "forgotten” war. International media coverage is lacking due to the enormous efforts undertaken by parties involved in the conflict to silence the voices of media workers. While many journalists fled the country, some continue to risk their lives in an attempt to remind the world of the conflict. Sometimes, the price for informing us about the current situation and the suffering of the people is their freedom and lives.
The IFJ has recorded the killing of three journalists in Yemen in 2017 – photojournalists Taqi-eddin Al-Huzeifi, Wael Al-Absi, and Sa’ad Al-Nadhari. They were struck in a rocket attack launched by Houthi rebels in the city of Taiz.
The number of journalists killed in Yemen is slowly decreasing. Although less died this year in comparison to 2016, it doesn’t demonstrate that the overall situation and working conditions for journalists are any better. Many reporters continue to suffer injuries and threats on a daily basis. They often face media restrictions and censorship and out of fear impose self-censorship. They are regularly prevented from covering news and face the suspension of their salaries. Most of the media houses are controlled by warring parties and those who appear to be independent are often seized.
Imprisoned journalists face very poor conditions in detention. The Yemeni Journalists Syndicate (YJS), the IFJ affiliate on the ground, provided evidence of 25 attacks on journalists and 21 attempts to kill media workers this year. According to YJS reports, journalists received 20 death threats in 2017. Targeted harassment is rarely investigated and thus the safety of the media workers is not guaranteed nor secured.
All warring parties have committed 168 violations of journalists’ rights. The Houthis and government bodies are responsible for most of the harassment of media workers. According to YJS, the Houthis are responsible for 52% of recorded violent incidents and the government’s share is 25%. The rest of the attacks are committed by unidentified parties, resistance movement based in Taiz, the Southern Movement, extremist groups, and the Arab coalition led by Saudi Arabia.
On top of the 50 kidnappings and arrests recorded in 2017, 16 journalists remain abducted since 2015 according to YJS reports – 15 by the Houthis and one by al-Qaeda.
The most vulnerable group are local journalists. Many foreign reporters cannot enter the country and have no opportunity to get close to the war. Therefore the burden lies on the shoulders of Yemeni correspondents who are more likely to face the violations and dangers of reporting the war.