One of the only foreign correspondents in Yemen and the winner of last year’s Martha Gellhorn Prize has been shortlisted for the 2015 XCity Award.
Iona Craig (Undergraduate, 2010) has been a freelance journalist in Yemen for nearly five years, giving a voice to the ordinary citizens of a country mired in conflict. She was on the ground at the outbreak of the Arab Spring in 2011 and has since reported on American drone strikes and their effects on the Yemeni people. In addition to the Gellhorn award, Craig won the Frontline Club Award in 2014 for her story on a drone attack that killed 12 people travelling to a wedding in the countryside. The 2010 undergraduate is the second of five shortlisted candidates to be revealed.
Craig told XCity+ of speaking to the victims’ families after the drone strike: “It was quite an emotional time for all of them, but they were very welcoming. It’s a rural area where people are incredibly poor, living very simple lives in single storey stone huts with no electricity and no running water. They have no interaction with the government whatsoever, yet the whole time we were down there we had drones buzzing over our heads. So that’s essentially their only interaction with any government of any sort. It’s an intimidating way to be living.”
She added that after living in Yemen’s capital, Sana’a, longer than any other city in her adult life, she has developed “an emotional attachment” to the country and its people.
After working 15 years in the race horsing industry, Craig completed her undergraduate degree in journalism at City as a mature student. During her time at City, she took Arabic lessons to prepare for a move to the Middle East. Shortly after graduation she arrived in Yemen, where she has written for the Times and Al Jazeera, among other publications.
Craig is one of five people to be shortlisted for the XCity Award and £500 prize, which recognises an outstanding contribution to journalism in the past year by a City alumnus.