January 25, 2016 - Updated on August 18, 2016

Mounting dangers for journalists in Yemen

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemns the growing dangers for media personnel in Yemen, where a second journalist has been killed in the space of a week as a result of the Saudi-led coalition’s air-strikes and an Al Jazeera reporter has been abducted together with his crew.

Hashem al-Hamran, a reporter for the pro-Houthi TV station Al Masira, died on 22 January from the injuries he received in an air strike the day before in Dhahiane, a town in northern province of Saada. He was only 17.

Local news media said he was injured while preparing a report on the damage caused by early airstrikes in the town. His death came just five days after a freelance reporter was killed in similar circumstances in the southern outskirts of the capital, Sanaa.

“The situation for journalists is becoming extremely worrying in an increasingly hostile environment for freedom of information,” said Alexandra El Khazen, the head of RSF’s Middle East desk.

We remind all parties to the conflict that they are responsible for the safety of journalists and that crimes of violence against them must not go unpunished. RSF also calls for the release of all journalists and media workers held by armed groups.

Al Jazeera said it lost contact with its correspondent in Taiz, Hamdi Al Bokari, on 18 January while he was covering the fighting between rebel and pro-government forces. The TV channel said it feared that Bokari was kidnapped along with Abdelaziz al-Sabri, a reporter for the newspaper Al Masdar, and their driver, Mounir al-Soubaie.

Security conditions in Yemen deteriorated dramatically in 2015 as a result of the fighting between government forces (backed by the Saudi-led coalition) and the Houthi rebels, who are allied with the supporters of former Yemeni President Ali Abdallah Saleh.

According to RSF’s tally, 17 journalists and media workers are currently held hostage by armed groups – either Houthi rebels or Al-Qaeda members.

Yemen is ranked 168th out of 180 countries in the 2015 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index.