By Marina de Regt “Yemen’s conflict is getting so bad that some Yemenis are fleeing to Somalia,” read a recent headline read a recent headline on Vice News. The article mentioned that 32 Yemenis, mainly women and children, made the trip to Berbera, a port town in Somaliland (and not Somalia). Hundreds of thousands of Somalis have crossed the Gulf of Aden since the outbreak of the Somali civil war in 1991. But now the tide seems to have turned. Yemen has become a war zone, as a coalition of Arab states led by Saudi Arabia bombs the country in an attempt to stop the Houthis, an insurgent movement opposed to the government, from gaining control over the entirety of Yemeni territory. But, instead of protecting the Yemeni population, these attacks have created more chaos, despair and destruction.
The situation is especially bad in Aden, Yemen’s main port, strategically located near Bab al-Mandab, the strait connecting the Indian Ocean to the Red Sea. Street fighting in Aden has intensified, mainly between the city’s inhabitants, on one side, and the Houthis and army units loyal to ‘Ali ‘Abdallah Salih, Yemen’s former president, on the other. Water is not available any longer, electricity is intermittent and food shortages are very serious. Life in Aden is unbearable without water and electricity, as the climate is very hot and humid. People are slowly starving. Those who can are trying to escape, but many do not have the opportunity.
Marina de Regt is Assistant Professor at the Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology of VU University Amsterdam, The Netherlands. She specializes in gender and migration in and between Yemen and Ethiopia. She wrote a number of other blogs about the situation in Yemen (in Dutch): Chaos in Jemen en de plicht van de antropoloog; Wat is er aan de hand in Jemen?; Jemen’s Martelkampen.