Yemeni journalists threatened; war underreported

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In Yemen a humanitarian catastrophe is in the making. The war, which started in March, is getting uglier by the day. Daily air strikes and an air and naval blockade have disrupted normal life completely, caused enormous destruction and left about half of the 26 million Yemenis in need of food and other basic necessities.

We know all this because UN-organizations, humanitarian agencies like MSF and some international news agencies keep informing the world about the tragedy taking place in Yemen. But information is scarce. In fact Yemen has become hard to access for Arab and foreign journalists. Lack of electricity and poorly developed Internet infrastructure are hampering the citizens to use social media as alternative ways of covering the conflict.

The situation in Yemen has been underreported for years, but the current war has exercising journalism almost impossible. Foreign reporters are not allowed into the country since the Saudi-led campaign started. Yemeni journalists face the problem of finding reliable sources in this polarized country and are subjected to violence and mistrust. Saudi’s, their Yemeni allies nor the Houthi’s are open to the idea of independent reporting. All journalists who are not “on their side” are basically treated like enemies.

Last Friday (29th of May) Ali Saleh Sanhan, the manager of Saba News Agency office in Hajja governorate, was kidnapped. According to the Yemeni Journalists Syndicate Sanhan was taken to the Political Security prison in the governorate, a place that was targeted previously by the Saudi-led Arab coalition airstrikes. Ironically the syndicate called on the local and international rights organizations “to pressure the Houthis to find at least safe detention centres or release the detained journalists”. Earlier in May two Yemeni journalists were killed when the coalition bombed the Houthi locations where they were held.

The IFJ (International Federation of Journalists) has urged the Houthi kidnappers to release journalist Ali Saleh Sanhan as soon as possible. For more info see: http://www.ifj.org/nc/news-single-view/backpid/1/article/ifj-and-its-yemeni-union-urge-immediate-release-of-news-agencys-editor/

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