Fear, murder, adventure… difficult times experienced by Yemeni fishermen in the chaos of the Red Sea

Yemen monitor/ by Suhail Al-sharhi

They go deep into the sea at night, they turn their faces, and with fear and anxiety they sleep on their boats waiting for what the fishing net carries for their children, but they return with a crop that does not cover their families ‘ daily needs . This is the case of fishermen on the coasts of the Red Sea.

The military operation carried out by the Houthi group in the Red Sea against commercial ships, and the disruption of international navigation, affected fishermen, and even limited the freedom of movements to search for fishing.

The Red Sea has witnessed unprecedented military operations and escalation. The targeting of commercial ships by the Houthi group still in progress since November last year until this month, the Houthis carried out more than 28 attacks targeting commercial ships and warships, under the pretext of supporting Gaza.

America, Britain and some Western countries quickly deployed fleets and warships in the Red Sea in order to protect commercial ships from Houthi attacks, which made the military escalation in the region intensify in light of the failure of diplomatic efforts to resolve the crisis. Fishermen are the most affected by that military operation.

Sadiq Hassan, one of the fishermen in the West Coast, said that the repeated Houthi attacks on commercial ships, and the transformation of the Red Sea into an arena of conflict, has become a source of concern and fear for fishermen, and many of them even stopped fishing for fear of their lives.

Sadek added in a statement to “Yemen monitor” that the fishing profession is the main source for most residents of the coastal areas on which they depend, but the naval military moves have caused the fishing process to retreat significantly.

“ Before the outbreak of the war in the territorial waters, we used to practice fishing naturally and from anywhere at sea, but since the start of the conflict , fishing has become a source of fear and concern for us,”  Sadek said.


Risky catching

Fishermen face difficulties and obstacles during the fishing process due to the conflict in the Red Sea. Ibrahim Ali, another fisherman in the West Coast, who says that the Red Sea has become strange for fishermen, as they cannot move freely to get fish, due to military operations in the area. He added: We practice fishing with a limited time and certain places to bring a little fish, and we return home for fear of any harm that may happen to us.

Ibrahim says that in winter the weather is cold ,so it is difficult to get fish from one place, and we cannot move to other places far from the coast to fish in light of the tensions witnessed by the Red Sea, forcing us to return even with a few fish.

In the context of his speech, Ibrahim added: “with the increasing tension in the Red Sea, most families prevented their children from going out to fish for fear of being targeted by the conflicting parties in the Red Sea, and even the fishermen feel panicked and feared, because their main source of securing their daily livelihood is in danger. ”

Ibrahim consider that working in fishing is as an adventure ,but despite this they are forced to work, because this is the only way to earn for living.


Houthi decision to stop fishing

Despite the expansion of the circle of conflict in the Red Sea, fishermen under the control of government forces are very lucky if they were compared with those under the Houthi controlled areas north of Hodeidah who were deprived of fishing in the areas controlled by the Houthi group .

On the beaches of the Al-Lohayah  Directorate and six other Yemeni Islands, Fishing was banned by a Houthi decision, and more than three hundred thousand fishermen in Al-Hodeidah are living the tragedy, especially after the Houthi group’s determination to militarize the coasts controlled by them.

Massoud Massawi says that the decision taken by the Houthi group to prevent fishing has greatly affected the lives of many fishermen, because the fishing process is the only source for the majority of the Yemeni coastal population.

No’aman Saif, is one of the fishermen affected by the Houthi decision of banning the fishing, says that the decision exacerbate the fishermen’s live’s condition because most of them do not have another source for income, and they do not find a profession or another way to provide their families daily necessities.

He added: The decision to ban fishing has caused most fishermen to move to coastal areas controlled by the government forces in order to fish, even if the harvest of fish is small.

Targeting of fishermen

On January 25, citizens of Al-Hodeidah province found bodies of eight fishermen, who were declared missing a few days ago after they went fishing in the waters of the Red Sea.

According to sources at the fish landing centers, the fishermen were killed during a fishing trip as they left the coasts of Khokha on last 19 of December , they were found near “That Herab” islands in the Red Sea and their bodies have gunshot marks.

The Ministry of Fisheries of the Houthi group pointed the fingers of accusation at the international forces presented in the Red Sea.

Over the past months, many Yemeni fishermen have lost their lives in the Red Sea, and the danger has increased due to the tensions in the Red Sea and Bab al-Mandab region, between the Houthis and the US-led coalition for weeks.

The armed group not only killed hundreds of fishermen with sea mines earlier, but also deliberately destroyed more than ninety fish landing centers and deprived thousands of fishermen of their livelihoods at sea.

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