Yemeni fishermen in Hodeidah see livelihoods slip away in war

Source: International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) - Switzerland - Wed, 12 Jul 2017 17:00 PM
Author: International Committee of the Red Cross / Ralph El Hage
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The two-year-long conflict in Yemen worsened an already dire humanitarian situation. More than 13,000 people have been killed, according to the U.N. and more than three million have fled their homes. Prices of food have soared leaving many suffering from hunger. Amid a cholera crisis, health care services are struggling to operate with lack of medicines, and staff who have not been paid for months.

In the Red Sea port city of Hodeidah, home to nearly half a million people, the livelihood of fishermen, like many in the city, is withering by the sea.

  • “We take turns in fishing, because we can’t all sail at the same time,” said Mohammad, a 50-year-old fisherman from Hodeidah and a father of five. An estimated 35,000 fishermen depend on fishing as a means of survival in the port of Hodeidah but now their daily catch is often too little to make ends meet.

  • “As fishermen, our greatest fear was the wind. Today, we dread this war more than anything else,” said Mohammad.

  • “I sail every day hoping for a good catch, only to return with nothing but disappointment,” said Nabil, a 30-year-old fisherman. Fearing more airstrikes in the city, his family sought refuge in the suburbs of Hodeidah. Together with a few other men, he lives in a small makeshift hut made of wood, tin and plastic by the seashore.

  • “We can’t catch as much fish as before. We have limited safe fishing areas and they are not enough for all of us.” Ali Youssef who has lived on the beach in Hodeida for most of his life. Earlier this year, over 40 Somali refugees were killed off the coast of Hodeidah after their boat was attacked. As a result, fishermen are now afraid to fish deeper in the sea. Many of the main jetties of the port, the main entry point of commercial goods and humanitarian aid into Yemen, were destroyed in August 2015.

  • “We live in times of fear and hopelessness,” said Omar, a 55-year-old fisherman in Hodeida. “We are afraid of being targeted. The situation is no longer safe and we worry about losing the little we’ve got.” Despite their fears, the fishermen refuse to leave the shore.

  • “This is my lunch,” said Mohammad, referring to a crab in his hands. “These clothes I am wearing, I picked them up from the shore.” Most of the fishermen don’t catch enough to eat themselves, let alone sell on the market.

  • Fishermen push their boat into the sea for another day of fishing – on a boat with no engine.

  • The fishermen return to shore without enough fish to sell at market again.

    The International Committee of the Red Cross is providing humanitarian aid very close to frontlines in Yemen. In Hodeidah, water engineers work to keep water supplies running in the city, the second largest in Yemen after the capital Sanaa.

    To learn more about the work of the International Committee of the Red Cross in Yemen, and elsewhere in the world, please visit the following or click here www.icrc.org/en/where-we-work/middle-east/yemen

    Photos credit: International Committee of the Red Cross / Ralph El Hage

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