Obock, Djibouti (CNN) – Amina Ali Qassim is sitting with her youngest grandchild on her lap, wiping away tears with her headscarf.
Only a few months old, this is the baby girl whose ears she desperately tried to cover the night the aerial bombardment started. She lay awake, she says, in a village mosque on the Yemeni island of Birim, counting explosions as the baby cried.
It could have been worse though. They could have still been in their house when the first missile landed.
“Our neighbor shouted to my husband ‘you have to leave, they’re coming.’ And we just ran. As soon as we left the house, the first missile fell right by it and then a second on it. It burned everything to the ground,” Qassim tells us.
Qassim and her family fled Birim at first light, piling in with three other families. Twenty-five of them squeezed into one boat setting sail through the Bab al-Mandab Strait to Djibouti.
Bab al-Mandab is one of the busiest waterways in the world, a thoroughfare for oil tankers and cargo ships. It’s now being crossed by desperate Yemenis in rickety fishing boats seeking refuge from the conflict threatening to engulf their country.