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Sunday 14 July 2019

Migration • Photos

The crossing point

Yemen is the site of a terrible displacement, as people rush out – and in. Here are Alixandra Fazzina’s photographs from the region

Winding around barren mountains and desert, a road followed on foot by around 300 migrants and refugees a day leads from the Ethiopian border to the Djiboutian port of Obock.
Helped by his companion, a young boy, injured when a car crashed into him on the winding road across the desert, limps towards a centre run by the International Office for Migration on the outskirts of Obock.
Drying the clothes she has just washed in a well on its branches, 19-year-old Fatima stands exhausted amid a thorny acacia tree at a smuggler’s staging post.
Yemeni women and girls gather under the shade of a canvas tent in Obock’s refugee camp during the arranged marriage of 18-year-old Fathouma.
As night draws in, a group of three newly arrived migrants look disorientated as they gaze along Obock’s main commercial street.
Amani frets as she looks over her baby daughter Lubna sleeping in a sling. Circumcised at dawn, Lubna does not expect to be able to hold her two-month-old for at least four days as she recovers from the “cutting”.
Under graffiti that reads “You cannot search for the beauty of love, it comes to you”, armed fighter jets have been drawn on the opening of a canvas tent in Obock.
Pinned up on a canvas tent with a screw, a child’s drawing of a traditional Arab dhow decorates the wall of temporary shop at Obock’s refugee camp.
At first light, an Ethiopian migrant lies hidden in a den of breeze blocks, asleep under a mosquito net.
Yemeni refugee Matukha Mohamed sits propped up by cushions as she chews khat alongside a local woman smoking shish and 70-year-old Saida who has arrived that day from Yakhtul.
Yemeni volunteer community worker Hayat heads through the unpaved streets of Ambouli’s slum as she makes her way to the home of a vulnerable refugee at night.
In the crumbling hull of an abandoned fishing boat, an Ethiopian thrarib lays fast asleep at sunrise, wrapped up between cardboard sheets and his sarong.
Resting on an old sofa, four female refugees dressed in niqabs wait in line behind a herd of cows to board a cargo ship in Obock’s tiny commercial board.
Captain Sam Sam’s crewmen sit on the hull of their dhow ahead of their departure from Obock Port to Mokha. Those fleeing from Yemen’s conflict often get a free ride whilst clandestine migrants are often stowed on board for a price.
Looking out from a rock over to the traditional wooden dhows in Obock’s harbour, father of six Ahmed Mussen is now spending his days alone in the nearby refugee camp. He recently made the decision to send his family away to the city.
A sand bank rises up from a bright turquoise coral reef in the Gulf of Tadjoura. This bright tropical sea is both the starting and finishing point for many clandestine journeys.
Saying goodbye to the relentless heat and dust of the refugee camp in Obock, Amina makes her way across the Gulf of Tadjoura on a speedboat that has replaced its delivery of the narcotic khat with passengers.
Thirteen-year-old Imen looks on as her father Saleem goes through his extended family of 15’s refugee papers in their tightly packed shack in Djibouti’s slums.
Sixteen-year-old Famid spends his morning resting in a cinema in Djibouti’s Quartier Quatre. Famid is one of hundreds of boys making the lone and irrational journey from their home villages in search of a better life on the Arabian Peninsula.
Squatting down on the floor, 20-year-old Saliha rolls out dough to be cooked in oil under an improvised stairwell in the shack that is her refuge in Djibouti.
Drawn onto a wall in felt tip, the national flag of Djibouti labelled in Arabic sits side by side with the former flag of Yemen.
Crouched outside their tin shacks, women sit washing dishes next to open sewers along the unpaved streets of Djibouti’s Quartier Quatre.
Speaking on his radio, Chief of Immigration Abdul Rahman looks out of the window of a newly constructed high-rise hotel as he makes contact with the captain of a ship carrying refugees.
As a wooden Yemeni dhow nears the dockside in the Port of Berbera, crew members jump down onto bollards ready to secure the vessel. 22 Yemeni and Somali refugees paid $250 each to flee the conflict in Aden.
Part of the group of 22 Yemeni refugees escaping war, a women struggles to lift her heavy case from a pile of luggage left by the crew on the dockside.
Using a small camera, an officer from the Somaliland Ministry of Resettlement, Rehabilitation and Reconstruction photographs a female evacuee just arrived from Yemen.
During a rough, night-time voyage across the Gulf of Aden, newly married Hasana lies down still feeling dizzy as the boat arrives in the Port of Berbera.
Ten-year-old Abdul finishes his day’s work in the fishing port of Berbera. He is the sole breadwinner for his family back in Yemen.
Orphaned by the war, Wasim now works fishing Somalia’s coastal waters from a small wooden boat. “I’m not in the war and I thank God I’m alive.”
Having arrived in Somaliland by boat that morning, a group of Yemeni children play on swings in the grounds of Berbera’s Reception Centre.
Having just arrived by boat from Yemen on a voyage across the Gulf of Aden, a young boy stands framed by the shadows of other children at a reception centre.
Many female Yemeni refugees feel more confidence to go out alone in Somaliland, where they are exploring new found freedoms often denied to them at home.
Isra and her family are part of the huge wave of climate refugees displaced to unofficial camps dotted around Hargeisa, Somaliland.
Almost one third of all Yemeni refugees in Somaliland are single mothers seeking refuge from the conflict with their children.
Taking a boat to Somalia, 26-year-old Rashida now lives in cramped conditions with her two-year-old daughter in an old shop that she shares with other female Yemeni refugees.
Thronged with shoppers at night, the streets and bazaars of Hargeisa’s downtown become one big open-air market.
“When I was a girl, I used to dream that I would be a doctor. Now I dream that I am being killed again and again. Each night in my dreams I get shot and lie bleeding in the street in Aden. Nobody even comes to help me. I am completely alone.”



A photographer and author, Alixandra Fazzina’s work focuses on underreported conflicts and the often forgotten humanitarian consequences of war.

Alixandra is known for her in-depth investigative reporting and ability to work in the most difficult social and geographical environments. She often spends prolonged periods in the countries and regions where she works.

In 2010, Alixandra won the prestigious UNHCR Nansen Refugee Award for her coverage of the devastating consequences of war.

All photographs Alixandra Fazzina/NOOR