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Socotra Island Military Takeover by UAE amid Climate Change Woes, Yemen


Description:

The Yemeni island of Socotra is the largest island of the Socotra Archipelago. The archipelago was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2008. The highly isolated island is home to a large number of endemic species. Up to one third of its plant life is endemic. Traditional livelihoods of the local population, which numbers around 70,000, have been fishing, animal husbandry, and date cultivation. The takeover by the UAE started under the guise of humanitarian aid and reconstruction after cyclone Megh in 2015. The impoverished local population was in dire need of basic services. However, land and infrastructure were developed at a fast scale and pace, threatening the ecosystem and livelihoods on the island.

This extended to the depletion of natural resources and fish stocks by commercial Emirati fishing boats, and to the control and monopolisation of tourism to and on the island. With the military conflict in Yemen and involvement of other Gulf States, this economic appropriation turned into a fully fledged occupation with the UAE colonising more land and establishing a military training base on the island.

Basic Data

Name of conflict:Socotra Island Military Takeover by UAE amid Climate Change Woes, Yemen
Country:Yemen, Rep.
State or province:Socotra Governorate
Location of conflict:Socotra Island
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)

Source of Conflict

Type of conflict: 1st level:Infrastructure and Built Environment
Type of conflict: 2nd level :Land acquisition conflicts
Military installations
Climate change related conflicts (glaciers and small islands)
Specific commodities:Endemic species, UNESCO World Heritage
Land
Tourism services
Ecosystem Services
Shrimps

Project Details and Actors

Project details:

The island is a UNESCO World Heritage site, the geological isolation of the Socotra archipelago have created a unique and spectacular endemic flora. In 2018 it is getting involved in the war in Yemen, with increased military presence of the UAE and Saudi Arabia..

Project area:379,600
Level of Investment:1,600,000,000
Type of populationUnknown
Affected Population:70,000
Start of the conflict:03/2015
Company names or state enterprises:Emirates Red Crescent from United Arab Emirates - Agency resposible for recontstructing the airport and renovating schools after hurricane Megh in 2015, locals accuse it of being a cover to Emirati appropriation plans.
Rotana Jet from United Arab Emirates - Rotana Jet operates weekly commercial flights directly linking the UAE to Socotra, bypassing Aden's authority, hoping to turn Socotra into a tourism hotspot.
Rotana Jet from United Arab Emirates - Rotana Jet operates weekly commercial flights directly linking the UAE to Socotra, bypassing Aden's authority, hoping to turn Socotra into a tourism hotspot.
Relevant government actors:Yemeni local authorities
Emirati state officials
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:General Authority for Conservation of Historic Places
Socotra Environmental Agency

Conflict and Mobilization

IntensityLOW (some local organising)
Reaction stageIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups mobilizing:Local government/political parties
Local scientists/professionals
Local tourism operators
Fisher people
Forms of mobilization:Involvement of national and international NGOs
Media based activism/alternative media
Official complaint letters and petitions
Appeals/recourse to economic valuation of the environment
Most protests and statements to media outlets remain anonymous due to fear of retribution

Impacts of the project

Environmental ImpactsVisible: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation
Potential: Food insecurity (crop damage), Waste overflow, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover
Health ImpactsVisible: Malnutrition
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Militarization and increased police presence, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Potential: Displacement, Violations of human rights, Land dispossession

Outcome

Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Repression
Development of alternatives:Protection by UNESCO for the preservation of environmental and cultural heritage.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:Increased militarization

Sources and Materials

Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

A report on the soft colonisation of Scotra by The New Arab, published 17 May, 2017
https://www.alaraby.co.uk/english/indepth/2017/5/17/has-the-uae-colonised-yemens-socotra-island-paradise

Press release on Saba Net: Yemen calls UNESCO to protect Socotra Island from dredging by occupying UAE forces, published on 7 May 2017
http://www.sabanews.net/en/news463999.htm

A tourist article about the Island of Socotra, published on 8 November 2015
https://feel-planet.com/island-of-socotra-yemen/

A tourist article about the Island of Socotra, published on 8 November 2015
https://feel-planet.com/island-of-socotra-yemen/

A tourist article about the Island of Socotra, published on 8 November 2015
https://feel-planet.com/island-of-socotra-yemen/

An investigative report about Socotra and raging power struggle in the region, published 6 May 2018

Socotra: How a strategic island became part of a Gulf power struggle
https://www.jpost.com/Middle-East/Socotra-How-a-strategic-island-became-part-of-a-Gulf-power-struggle-553599

An investigative report about Socotra and raging power struggle in the region, published 6 May 2018

Socotra: How a strategic island became part of a Gulf power struggle
https://www.jpost.com/Middle-East/Socotra-How-a-strategic-island-became-part-of-a-Gulf-power-struggle-553599

Article about the UAE takeover of Socorta, published 6 May 2018

Yemen: UAE Takeover of Socotra Island an Unjustified Violation of Sovereignty
https://news.antiwar.com/2018/05/06/yemen-uae-takeover-of-socotra-an-unjustified-violation-of-sovereignty/

A propaganda piece and portal in the Emirati The National advertising Socotra and its redevelopment

Paradise regained: return to Socotra
https://socotra.thenational.ae/

An Independent news report about the conflict in Socotra, published 2 May 2018

Socotra island: The Unesco-protected 'Jewel of Arabia' vanishing amid Yemen’s civil war
https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/socotra-island-yemen-civil-war-uae-military-base-unesco-protected-indian-ocean-a8331946.html

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

Some Twitter hashtags used by activists #Socotra_is_Yemeni
https://twitter.com/hashtag/Socotra_is_Yemeni?src=hash

Investigative video report by BBC News:

Yemen's island 'jewel' under threat -

The island of Socotra has so far escaped largely unscathed as civil war rages on mainland Yemen, but the foreign powers bringing aid and infrastructure to the impoverished region could threaten its unique ecosystem.
https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/world-middle-east-44924534/yemen-s-island-jewel-under-threat

Some Twitter hashtags used by activists #Socotra
https://twitter.com/hashtag/Socotra?src=hash

Video "Appeal to UNESCO and International Community"
https://twitter.com/i/status/1020693738711023616

Some Twitter hashtags used by activists #SaveSocotra
https://twitter.com/hashtag/SaveSocotra?src=hash

Other documents

https://file.ejatlas.org/docs/Socotra_dragon_tree.jpg

Meta information

Last update12/08/2018

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