Middle east

Yemeni Fishermen in Danger: Houthis Turn the Red Sea into a War Zone

The Houthis turn the Red Sea into a war zone

The humanitarian crisis in Yemen is escalating with continued Houthi attacks in the Red Sea, leaving the lives of local fishermen hanging by a thread between poverty and danger. These attacks not only deteriorate the fishermen’s economic conditions but also transform the sea into a perilous zone, reflecting the magnitude of the catastrophe these fishermen and the local fishing-dependent economy are enduring.

Abdullah Ahmed, a fisherman from the city of Mocha, says: “The sea has become a nightmare for us. Once, we were in the middle of the sea when armed Houthi boats surrounded us. We were terrified and didn’t know if we would make it home safely.”

He adds : “I have lost many friends at sea. We are not seeking wealth, just a livelihood. But the situation has become so dangerous that we are considering leaving this profession that has been our entire life.”

Abdullah continues: “The sea is our only source of income, but Houthi attacks have turned it into a constant source of terror. We are calling on the international community to intervene to protect us and ensure our safety while practicing our profession.”

In the same context, Hassan Badr, a resident of Hodeida province, shares his experience: “During one of our fishing trips, we came under fire when a foreign ship suspected us of being an armed Houthi boat, only to realize we were ordinary fishermen.” He adds that the Houthis rely on using armed boats resembling fishing vessels, putting fishermen’s lives in constant danger.

Imminent Danger

The depletion of fish stocks in Yemeni territorial waters forces fishermen to venture into deep waters, exposing them to significant risks.

Adham Jawad, the Secretary-General of the Fisheries Cooperative Union in the southern provinces of Yemen, explains: “The depletion of fish stocks in territorial waters drives some fishermen to risk their lives in deep waters, especially with the presence of foreign ships trying to counter Houthi attacks.”

Badr continues: “Militias push fishermen to row near foreign ships, increasing the likelihood of attacks. These practices have forced thousands of fishermen in Hodeida to stop working at sea, turning their primary source of income into a constant source of fear and anxiety.”

Jawad adds that many fishermen have stopped fishing in the Red Sea due to imminent danger and have moved their activities to the Arabian Sea. “Overfishing has led to a depletion of fish stocks, forcing fishermen to sail far to find livelihood, which exposes them to significant risks.”

Catastrophic Repercussions

Since the start of Houthi attacks in the Red Sea last November, Yemeni authorities have reported the loss of 40 fishermen, with some returning to their families as dead bodies. Local authorities in Hodeida accuse the Houthi militias of disrupting fish landing centers and seizing fishermen’s boats to use them to threaten international navigation. The fishermen’s crisis in Yemen is worsening day by day, facing an uncertain future under continuous Houthi threats. The situation requires urgent intervention to protect these fishermen and ensure the continuity of their only source of income.

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