on Monday 13 May, 2024

Houthi attacks devastate Yemen’s fishermen

A Yemeni fishing worker patches a fishing net on his boat in Al Hudaydah December 6, 2021. (© Mohammed Hamoud/Getty Images)
by : U.S. Mission to Yemen

Yemen’s Red Sea coast has sustained families for generations. But now, Houthi militant attacks on commercial ships are depriving thousands of Yemeni fishermen of their livelihood.

“These days we live in fear. There is no safety anymore,” fisherman Waari Walid told Turkish Radio and Television. “Fishermen are victims.”

Since the Iran-backed Houthis began attacking vessels in the Red Sea last November, thousands of fishermen have been affected. The Houthi attacks have forced many to relocate or risk going hungry.

“Owners of small boats like me can no longer put food on the table,” Ramzy Yusr, from the coastal city of Khokha, told the National News. “Fishermen like me have no means of income but the sea. If we stay at home, we will die of hunger.”

In Yemen’s western Hodeidah province alone, some 10,000 fishermen have been unable to work as usual because of the Houthi attacks.

The risk of being caught in the crossfire means fishermen like Yusr and Walid cannot fish in the deeper waters of the Red Sea.

“The deep seas are dangerous, so fishermen have to stick to shallow water,” says Muthana Hiba Ahmad, Director of Fisheries in the Red Sea. Fishing near the shore “only provides [a] little money that doesn’t cover the cost.”

Rising costs

Making the problem worse, the Houthis’ repeated attacks on commercial ships have caused spiraling fuel prices, making life harder for the already struggling Yemeni people.

In a country where the World Bank estimates 17 million people suffer from hunger, Houthi attacks on shipping are only making matters worse. Yemen imports roughly 90% of its food staples according to the United Nations and relies heavily on aid shipments.

In February, the Houthis attacked a cargo vessel carrying corn and other food intended for the Yemeni people.

The Houthis’ violence is forcing many fishermen to move their work and families south and east, away from the Red Sea.

Mohammad Nasser, who operates a larger boat with a crew of 10 to 15, told the National News that he was forced to move his life to Al Mahra province on Yemen’s southern coast.

“In Hodeidah, the sea has turned into a source of horror, not livelihood,” Nasser said.