Armed gunmen abduct journalist as Yemen conflict rages on

Journalists and human rights defenders in Yemen continue to risk their lives in the ongoing conflict that has forced three million people to flee their homes and left seven million at risk of famine. NGOs have recently reiterated their calls for the UN to set up an independent international inquiry into human rights abuses and violations of international humanitarian law in the country. 

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According to reports from Al-Jazeera and Reuters, on 19th July 2017 three BBC journalists were prevented from travelling to Yemen on a UN flight. According to the Middle East Eye, an official with Yemen’s information ministry stated that “the coalition suspended the UN flight leaving Djibouti for Sana’a on Tuesday as there were three BBC journalists on board and authorities feared for the safety of the journalists". The journalists had secured visas from both sides of the conflict, according to Ahmed Ben Lassoued, Yemen's spokesperson for the UN's humanitarian coordination office, UNOCHA.

On 14th August 2017, human rights defender and online activist Hisham Al-Omeisy was arrested by Houthi authorities and remains in detention without access to a lawyer or his family. According to the Gulf Centre for Human Rights, Al-Omeisy was arrested by the National Security Bureau in Jawlat al-Misbahi in south Sana’a. Al-Omeisy promotes human rights, most notably, through his on-line activism. Human rights groups expressed concern over his detention and have called for his immediate release, stating that:

“Yemen more than ever needs activists like Hisham al-Omeisy to bring attention to the devastation that war, famine, and disease have wrought on the country and its people”.

According to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), on 22nd August freelance journalist Abdel-Raheem Mohsin was abducted by gunmen in civilian clothes in southwestern Yemen near the city of Taiz. CPJ reported that his home was also searched and he remains in detention. It is not clear who abducted the journalist, though Yemen's Minister of Foreign Affairs Abdul Malik al-Mekhlafi has blamed the Houthi rebel movement.