On August 5, 2021, Yemen Policy Center held a panel event on “Reclaiming the Narrative: Framing of the Yemen Conflict in the Media”, organised by Research Fellow Hadil Al-Mowafak and moderated by Hamza Shiban, managing editor of Al-Madaniya magazine.
The panellists drew attention to Western media’s framing of the conflict in Yemen and the consequences of those framings. They observed that Western media often reduces Yemenis to being conflict actors or victims of a humanitarian catastrophe, rather than positive change makers. The imagery used by international organizations for fundraising further reinforces the sense of victimhood in a way that does not respect the dignity of those photographed. However, due to current funding structures, Yemeni journalists or film makers rarely get the opportunity to tell their own story in ways that are not shaped by Western agendas. Stories that humanise and bring nuance to Yemeni lives.
The oversimplification of conflict dynamics and the forceful promotion of the ‘humanitarian narrative’ have also diverted attention away from broader political issues. Such framing has a detrimental effect on policymaking around Yemen.
Nadwa Al-Dawsari is a researcher with extensive field experience in Yemen, where she worked with organizations and people from across the country, and is a founding director of Partners Yemen.
Iona Craig is an award-winning freelance journalist, focused on Yemen and the Arabian Peninsula, and also heads-up the Yemen Data Project, which collates data on airstrikes and political violence in Yemen.
Yousef Assabahi is a Yemeni-American writer and director; his first short film, A Patriot Act, won the Best Student Film award at the Nevada International Film Festival.
Mariam Al-Dhubhani is a Yemeni-Russian award-winning journalist, filmmaker, and curator, who uses virtual reality to highlight stories from Yemen.
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German Federal Foreign Office