In recent years, the “Eastern Route” from the Horn of Africa to the Arabian Peninsula has become one of the busiest and deadliest maritime migration routes in the world. At the same time, Yemenis seeking to escape the ongoing conflict in their country have sought refuge in the Horn of Africa. In this discussion, Nathalie Peutz and Steven Serels consider the humanitarian crisis and the pandemic in Yemen, where over half the population faces acute food shortages, fears of mass displacement are growing, and armed conflict intensifies. Reviewing the myriad causes and consequences of structural poverty in the Southern Red Sea area, Peutz and Serels also address the migratory movements and displacements in this geopolitically sensitive region, illuminating how intersecting global and regional movements are navigated by “refugees” and “migrants” in search of security.
Nathalie Peutz is a cultural anthropologist who has conducted wide-ranging, ethnographic research in Yemen, Djibouti, and Somaliland. She is the author of Islands of Heritage: Conservation and Transformation in Yemen (Stanford University Press, 2018) and co-editor of The Deportation Regime: Sovereignty, Space, and the Freedom of Movement (with Nicholas De Genova, Duke University Press, 2010). In spring 2021, she is the Berthold Leibinger Fellow at the American Academy in Berlin.
Steven Serels is Research Fellow at the Leibniz-Zentrum Moderner Orient and was previously at Harvard University’s Center for Middle Eastern Studies and Martin Luther Universität Halle-Wittenberg’s Zentrum für Interdisziplinäre Regionalstudien. He is the author of Starvation and the State: Famine, Slavery and Power in Sudan 1883-1956 (Palgrave Macmillan, 2013) and The Impoverishment of the African Red Sea Littoral, c1640-1945 (Palgrave Macmillan, 2018).