RSF stresses need for protection for reporters in Yemen

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemns a young Yemeni reporter’s death on 21 July while covering clashes between government forces and Houthi rebels in the city of Harad, in the northwestern border province of Haijjah. Journalists covering the fighting in Yemen are inevitably exposed to often deadly dangers.

Abdelkarim Al-Jarbani, 25, was killed by sniper fire while embedded with a Yemeni army brigade. He worked for two online media outlets, Ma’reb Press and Yemen Al-Aan.

We deplore this young journalist’s death in the course of his work,” said Alexandra El Khazen, the head of RSF’s Middle East desk. “Because of the dangers for professional journalists in Yemen, young reporters – who are often amateurs – take great risks to fill the gaps in media coverage.

We stress the importance of training journalists in how to cover fighting, as well as the importance of the various parties to the conflict accepting their duty to protect journalists under UN Security Council Resolution 2222 of 2015.”

According to our sources, barely qualified amateur journalists are working for media outlets and are going to the front without bulletproof vests and without training in war coverage, which leaves them more vulnerable and more exposed to the conflict’s violence.

Hisham Al-Shabili, who works for the Yemen Monitor website, has sustained shrapnel injuries in different parts of his body twice in the past month while covering the fighting in Harad, on 11 July and again on 20 July.

According to RSF’s tally, a total of 14 journalists and citizen-journalists are currently detained by armed groups in Yemen. Journalists held by the Houthis have reportedly been transferred to another prison in Sanaa.

Covering the Yemeni conflict is extremely difficult. The forces occupying any given city usually determine which media operate there. The media outlets operating in Sanaa support the Houthi rebels and former President Ali Abdallah Saleh. The media outlets in the southern city of Aden are either independent or tend to support President Abd Rabbo Mansur Hadi’s government. Many journalists have stopped working altogether or have left the country.

RSF recently published an updated version of its Safety Guide for Journalists, which offers practical advice for reporters working in high-risk areas. It is available in Arabic, English, French and Spanish.

Yemen is ranked 170th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2016 World Press Freedom Index.

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Updated on 26.07.2016