Young Yemeni Fisherman Employed in Heritage Rehabilitation

Living in the coastal city of Aden, Sami Mohammed is a twenty-year-old young Yemeni who resorted to fishing to support his parents and six younger siblings. The ongoing conflict in Yemen has affected the livelihood of millions of households forcing young Yemenis to either pick arms or rely on unsustainable economic activities. Sami’s life has been severely affected by the conflict. He was contemplating joining the front line two years ago. He notes that during his registration to join an armed group, “it was too real for me when I was asked to sign a piece of paper consenting that no-one bears responsibility if I die. I guess all I wanted was a sustainable income.” Sami’s wise decision to spare his life made him become a fisherman which worked for a while, yet proved to be unstable due to the instability of weather conditions and the economy.

Sami is one of the hundreds of young Yemenis employed in cash-based urban rehabilitation programme, implemented by UNESCO and the Social Fund for Development, with the generous funding of the European Union (10 M EUR). The project aims at employing 4,000 young men and women in safeguarding cultural heritage in four different historic urban centers. Sami works for the stabilization of the Sultan Palace National Museum in Aden. The museum overlooks the central fish market where Sami used to sell his catch when he is lucky enough and the weather allows for fishing. Currently, Sami receives stable weekly wages. His life has been greatly impacted by the project.

 The project has revived many of my peers in the neighborhood opening doors for them to support their families, providing food and fulfilling their needs.
Sami Mohammed

Young women and men employed in 2020

Situated between Shamsan Mountains, the historic district of the city of Aden is named Crater in reference to the ancient volcano surrounding the city. The coastal city contains unique architectural heritage drawing on a rich historical legacy of migration and colonial influence. The historic buildings of the city are built using environmentally sourced materials from the surrounding mountains including dark volcanic rocks and hard wooden trees grown in the subtropical climate of the surrounding agriculturally rich districts. The ongoing conflict in Yemen has affected the integrity of the historic buildings, including residential homes which further threatens the living conditions of many families in the historic urban centers. Sami’s story is similar to many young people from the neighborhood who have been affected by the increased unemployment forcing them “sit at streets’ corners without any hopes of growth and better futures.”  

Despite COVID-19, the UNESCO/EU project “Cash For Work: Promoting Livelihood Opportunities for Urban Youth in Yemen” empowered around 1,000 young men and women in 2020 as part of the project’s contribution to the UN Strategic Framework for Immediate Socio-economic response to COVID-19 in Yemen.