Sophie Claudet: “Mohammed, Yemen is under siege today. How did you manage to get into the country?”
Mohammed Shaikhibrahim: “Getting into the country obviously wasn’t easy. We tried for many long months and we met with many difficulties. The absence of airports open to international flights, Sanaa airport had been completely destroyed and it was the same thing for Adan airport. But, for a while now, some flights into the capital Sanaa have been operating under the control of the Ansar Allah group, the Houthies.
“We had also spent a lot of time previously getting the different security authorisations which are necessary to get into Yemen, especially from the Ansar Allah group which is controlling the Airport of Sanaa and the capital. This means that journalist wanting to get into Yemen have to go through this group.”
Sophie Claude: “Isn’t Yemen a dangerous place for journalists?”
Mohammed Shaikhibrahim: “There are many dangers, kidnappings, killings, the country is out of control, with internal assassinations and air strikes, all of these things are dangers for journalists wanting to go to Yemen.”
Sophie Claude: “Did anything happen to you?”
Mohammed Shaikhibrahim: “Yes, during this mission to Yemen and more particularly in the area of Saada in the north of the country, we were arrested by some armed individuals claiming to be members of the Ansar Allah group, but we later learnt that in fact they belonged to the tribes who were following their cause. As a result, we were like hostages as there was a sort of bartering and negotiations between the two groups to free us. We were held for quite a while. The cameraman was held but after some deliberation he was freed, but our equipment was kept back by them for about six hours.”
Sophie Claude: “Where do civilians stand?”
Mohammed Shaikhibrahim: “The civilians are divided between the two sides. Some support the forces in the South whilst others support the Houthies, that is obvious.
“The two sides are supported by tribes, because the Yemen population is a population made up of tribes. The people of Yemen are fighters by nature trained especially for ground warfare. This means that war, battles and weapons have become part of the Yemen culture, and I felt this. It’s sad, I know. There is a lot of poverty in Yemen, but the people will never accept the intervention of a foreign power in their country.”