Arafat Mudabesh, 2016 winner
Radio Sawa correspondent Arafat Mudabesh is one of three MBN correspondents recognized for their bravery and integrity as they have taken extreme risks to impart news and information to serve the public across the Middle East and North Africa.
Yemen’s war has brought catastrophic consequences resulting in one of the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. Due to airstrikes, shelling, and street-by-street urban combat, civilians and journalists are at constant risk of death and injury. Many local journalists have fled the country in fear of widespread violence as well as abductions, kidnappings, arbitrary arrests, and torture.
Unwilling to leave Yemen, Mudabesh decided to stay to report facts on the ground, motivated by his desire to get to the heart of stories that affect the lives of Radio Sawa’s audience.
He was determined to accurately tell Yemen’s unknown stories from hot spots, including Aden, Taiz, Hadramout, Sana’a and beyond.
Despite the fact that the current conflagration made reporting on his country more difficult than at any other time in memory, Mudabesh passionately communicated Yemen’s travails with emphasis on the human cost of war from disease and lack of food, water and medicine.
He reported from the frontlines in Sana’a while Saudi Arabia backed an assault on the Houthi-held capital in Yemen’s northwest. Most recently, he reported on heavy clashes between forces loyal to President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi and al-Qaeda militants from Yemen’s devastated port city of Aden. Mudabesh not only addressed security and political issue but also shed light on cultural topics such as the condition of Yemen’s remaining Jewish community.
With such a precarious and hostile atmosphere for journalists, Mudabesh continuously lives in fear of reprisal from Houthi and Saleh loyalists and al-Qaeda-affiliated extremists, accusing him of treason and espionage because he works for an American radio station. He has had to flee multiple times after facing harassment and receiving death threats. Most recently, Mudabesh had to flee from his residence in Aden, leaving his family behind, due to fear of retaliation from al-Qaeda extremists and the growing influence of the separatists in the city.