Tag Archives: UNHCR

Yemen conflict comes at great cost to civilians: UN envoy

A man from the city of Sa’ada, sits outside his tent in the Dharwan settlement outside Yemen’s capital Sana’a. He fled with his eight sons to the temporary settlement after his house was destroyed by Yemen’s devastating conflict. Photo: UNHCR/Mohammed Hamoud

21 February 2017 – United Nations Radio

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The escalation of conflict and militarization of Yemen’s Western Coast is coming at a great cost to civilians, the humanitarian coordinator in the country, Jamie McGoldrick, has warned.

Fighting and displacement have mainly been concentrated in Al Mukha and Al Dhubab districts in Taizz governorate.

Since the beginning of the conflict in March 2015, some three million people have been forced to flee their homes for safety, according to UN estimates.

Jocelyne Sambira reports.

UN humanitarian coordinator Jamie McGoldrick issued a statement on Tuesday expressing concern over the recent flare-up of fighting in Yemen and its impact on the ongoing food crisis.

Over 17 million people in Yemen are currently unable to adequately feed themselves and are frequently forced to skip meals, he said.

Seven million Yemenis don’t know where their next meal will come from and are even closer to starvation, he added.

Meanwhile, the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) also issued a warning following the release of the latest data on the country’s displacement crisis.

Prolonged hostilities and worsening conditions are now forcing one million of those uprooted to return to the homes they fled, despite the danger and insecurity across the country, the agencies said.

On a more positive note, health authorities in Yemen launched a nationwide polio immunization campaign on Monday with the help of the World Health Organization (WHO) and the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

More than 5 million children under the age of five are expected to get the vaccine, according to WHO’s Christian Lindemeir.

“More than 40,000 health workers are taking part in the 3 day campaign and that involves more than 5,000 vehicles that had to be rented. The campaign started in all governorates except Sa’ada which is in the northwest where it will take place next week and will be combined with measles and rubella measles campaign due to the measles outbreak there.”

Mr Lindemeir said the last immunization campaign was in 2016. 

Jocelyne Sambira, United Nations.

Yemen’s brutal two-year conflict forcing displaced to return home amid persisting risks – UN

A man from the city of Sa’ada, sits outside his tent in the Dharwan settlement outside Yemen’s capital Sana’a. He fled with his eight sons to the temporary settlement after his house was destroyed by Yemen’s devastating conflict. Photo: UNHCR/Mohammed Hamoud

21 February 2017

The complex crisis in Yemen continues to deepen, with United Nations agencies reporting today that perhaps one million people who had fled for safety are returning to their homes mainly due to a lack of access to income and basic services in the areas of displacement, warning that returnees often find the situation just as bad.

“It’s testament to how catastrophic the situation in Yemen has become, that those displaced by the conflict are now returning home because life in the areas to which they had fled for safety is just as abysmal as in the areas from which they fled,” said Ayman Gharaibeh, the Representative for Yemen of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), in a joint press release issued with the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

“These returns cannot be viewed as sustainable,” Mr. Gharaibeh added, explaining that people often return to homes that have been damaged and to areas lacking essential services, and are often forced to flee again.

A multi-sectoral location assessment report released today, and a periodically updated population movement tracking report published last month, show that there are currently two million internally displaced people (IDPs) across Yemen and one million IDP returnees.

As conditions across the country further deteriorate, many more IDPs are contemplating a return home, where challenging security and socio-economic conditions persist. About 40 per cent of key informants indicate that IDPs now intend to return home within the next three months. The reports highlight a lack of access to income and basic services in areas of displacement as the main reasons for pushing IDPs to return to the areas of their origin.

All but of Yemen’s governorates now affected by devastating conflict

Mr. Gharaibeh noted that all of Yemen’s governorates, with the exception of the island of Socotra, have been affected by conflict.

“The overwhelming majority of Yemen’s one million IDP returnees have returned to Aden, Amanat Al Asimah, Taizz, Lahj and Shabwah, which have been particularly impacted by hostilities and insecurity,” he explained.

Yemen’s local communities are also under intense strain with alarming scarcities of food and insufficient access to water and sanitation services. Some 84 per cent of Yemen’s two million IDPs have been displaced for more than a year and scarce resources are increasingly overstretched.

“IOM and all partners must scale up their response to support those newly displaced as well as those whose displacement is becoming increasingly protracted with shifting needs,” said IOM Yemen’s Chief of Mission, Laurent De Boeck.

Weapons must fall silent to avert famine

In a separate statement, the Humanitarian Coordinator in Yemen, Jamie McGoldrick, warned against the impact of increased fighting along Yemen’s west coast on the food crisis.

“I urgently call on all parties to the conflict and on those that have influence over the parties to facilitate the rapid entry of critical life-saving food staples into all Yemeni ports,” he said, noting that over 17 million people are frequently forced to skip meals and seven million Yeminis do not know where their next meal will come from and are ever closer to starvation.

Moreover, the availability of food in markets and the food pipeline are at imminent risk. Food shortages are widespread, food and fuel prices are rising, there are disruptions to agricultural production, and purchasing power is plummeting, especially brought about by the lack of salary payments in the public sector for over six months.

And given that the country is 80-90 per cent dependent on imported food staples, he said he is “compelled to raise the alarm,” as such factors, if left unabated, could combine to accelerate the onset of famine.

“The best means to prevent famine in Yemen is for weapons to fall silent across the country and for the parties to the conflict to return to the negotiating table,” he said.

UN agencies support nationwide polio immunization campaign

Meanwhile, a nationwide polio immunization campaign was launched yesterday in Yemen by national health authorities with support from the World Health Organization (WHO) and the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), aiming to immunize about five million children under the age of five.

More than 40,000 health workers are taking part in the three-day campaign.

“WHO is working closely with UNICEF and health authorities to keep Yemen polio-free. The threat of virus importation is serious and this campaign aims to curb any possible return of the virus to Yemen,” said WHO Acting Representative in Yemen, Nevio Zagaria.

This is the first polio immunization campaign since April 2016. The security situation in Yemen has limited accessibility of many parts of the country, leaving many children at risk of vaccine-preventable diseases.

Q&A: Yemenis face a ‘struggle for survival’

UNHCR’s country representative, Ayman Gharaibeh, warns war is tearing the fabric of Yemen apart and creating a humanitarian catastrophe.

Internally displaced Yemeni sisters Dalal, four, and Radha, three, cling onto their toys at a makeshift camp near Sana’a, Yemen.  © UNHCR/Mohammed Hamoud

AMMAN, Jordan – Since war broke out in Yemen in March 2015, the fabric of the country has been disintegrating and the population of 27.4 million suffering untold hardship and misery. The situation there has been described as a ‘humanitarian catastrophe’ and without help many more people, especially children, will die from violence, lack of food and water, illness or disease. Ayman Gharaibeh, UNHCR’s Representative to Yemen, is leading the UN Refugee Agency’s humanitarian operations and response across the country. The experienced humanitarian aid worker previously served in Yemen with UNHCR from 1992 to 1994. Gharaibeh spoke to Public Information Officer Shabia Mantoo about the desperate situation there.

Please describe the situation in Yemen at the moment?

Simply put this is nothing short of a humanitarian catastrophe. Current hostilities are taking place in a country mired by years of successive conflicts, widespread insecurity and under-development, so we now see a devastating mix of civilian casualties, mass displacement, worsening poverty, economic decline, deteriorating conditions, weakened public institutions and limited access to services. Almost two years into the conflict, we are trying to respond to a calamity in which nearly 19 million people across Yemen are in need of urgent assistance and people are suffering in truly abysmal conditions.

What are the most pressing needs for those displaced by the conflict?

The situation facing many displaced Yemenis is essentially a struggle for survival – food, water and shelter are priority needs for those who have been forced to flee elsewhere in Yemen for safety. Many are now enduring miserable and inadequate conditions living in overcrowded or makeshift shelters for months on end and without sufficient protection. More than half the population is without adequate food and health care and this will only worsen. Deteriorating conditions are also facilitating the spread of preventable communicable diseases, such as cholera, which have arisen as a consequence of the conflict.

Where is UNHCR working in Yemen and how are you responding to the crisis?

UNHCR has been present in Yemen since the 1980s. It is saddening for me personally that every time I come back to Yemen it is because of yet another war. In the early 90s there was the unification war and now more than two decades later we come back to yet another conflict.

In the current context, our response is oriented towards addressing the needs of displaced Yemenis as well as of refugees and asylum seekers in Yemen. Under the humanitarian coordination system that is activated in Yemen, we lead the shelter, non-food item, and protection response through all phases of displacement. Our prioritized assistance has to date reached more than 660,000 Yemenis most in need of the 2.2 million that have been displaced. Our winter assistance is also being delivered to reach 210,000 individuals. To help protect the rights of those forcibly displaced, we provide legal and financial assistance and psychosocial support services in addition to other programmes and interventions.

Is it difficult to deliver aid in Yemen? What are the biggest challenges for UNHCR?

Humanitarian access remains a significant issue in light of security and bureaucratic obstacles; and we also have to bear in mind that a number of proscribed organizations operate in Yemen so access is also impeded on this front. However, other reasons may be as innocuous as the fact that information flows for authorizations may not work in a systematic way, so delays can result from clearances not being received in time from the centre to the field. Nonetheless, we continue to advocate with parties to the conflict for access and we maintain a presence through field offices across Yemen. Despite these constraints, we have reached 20 of Yemen’s 21 governorates.

Is humanitarian assistance alone sufficient?

The magnitude of the crisis in Yemen is such that it cannot be addressed by humanitarian assistance and the humanitarian community alone. We are dealing with multi-layered economic and social impacts of war that are affecting literally every household in Yemen, whether through worsening poverty and the effects of the declining currency or the lack of essential services and weakened public institutions. If the situation continues we will see the public sector weaken to the point of collapse, basic infrastructure will begin to unravel and that will be one step closer to chaos. There needs to be significant redress in parallel with a political, peaceful resolution of the conflict to halt this downward spiral. There are ongoing discussions between the UN and the World Bank on how to preserve state institutions from collapsing, but that is fraught with challenges when the economic collapse is in fact the objective in this conflict.

Yemen is often referred to as a neglected crisis. Why is this so?

It is definitely a neglected crisis when compared to other regional crises. If we look at the magnitude and scale of the needs in Yemen, the attention it receives is disproportionate. This is due to a number of factors and, as disastrous as it is, the conflict hasn’t generated huge outflows of Yemeni refugees. So, in the absence of movements from Yemen and onwards to Europe, there is no spotlight on this catastrophe. Furthermore, there is also the misperception that this is only a regional crisis or a neighbourhood problem, and as a result many traditional donors don’t see the need to extend as much support.

Why is Yemen important and why should the world care? 

It is very short-sighted to see Yemen as just a regional crisis, it is a global crisis with far-reaching implications. This is one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises. What are the implications of a country on the brink? If instability continues to prevail in parts of the country, then proscribed organizations currently present in Yemen will benefit – and that poses a threat to global security. The world cannot afford to let Yemen slip into the abyss. Yemen must be supported and we need to keep on advocating and mobilizing support in every way we can.

More than three million displaced in Yemen – joint UN agency report

6 August 2015, Khamer, Yemen: Displacement site in Khamer in Amran Governorate. About 200 families of the muhamasheen minority displaced from Sa’ada live in the site. Credits: OCHA / Philippe Kropf

6 August 2015, Khamer, Yemen: Displacement site in Khamer in Amran Governorate. About 200 families of the muhamasheen minority displaced from Sa’ada live in the site. Credits: OCHA / Philippe Kropf

22 August 2016

A joint report by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) has found that the conflict in Yemen has resulted in the displacement of some 3,154,572 people, of which 2,205,102 remain displaced across the country and some 949,470 have attempted to return home.

“The crisis is forcing more and more people to leave their homes in search of safety,” Ita Schuette, UNHCR’s Deputy Representative in Yemen said in a news release on Friday, announcing the report.

The news release added that due to the escalating conflict and worsening humanitarian conditions, displacement across the country has seen an increase of about seven per cent since April, with 152,009 individuals fleeing from violence during this period.

The report, prepared by the Task Force on Population Movement, a technical working group led by the two agencies as part of the humanitarian response to the crisis in Yemen, also said that a significant number of those displaced are attempting to return home, a 24 per cent increase of some 184,491 individuals. However, it cautioned that movements remained fluid and correlated to moments of lulls or perceived improvements in the conflict.

“IDP returnees are considered to remain within the displacement cycle as long as they have not achieved a sustainable reintegration and their needs remain high, as is also the case for the non-displaced host community,” said Laurent De Boeck, IOM Chief of Mission to Yemen.

The news release further added that prolonged displacement had adversely impacted the communities hosting uprooted populations, substantially increasing pressures on already scarce resources. The majority of those displaced, some 62 per cent, are being hosted by their family and friends while others are using unsuitable shelters.

It further said that for those displaced, the primary challenges continued to be the basic essentials: food, shelter and drinking water.

According to the figures, as the conflict continues, the average length of time people having to spend away from their homes has also increased. Most of those uprooted, some 89 per cent, have been displaced for more than ten months.

The report also includes data on displacement due to natural disasters: at present, 24,744 individuals remain displaced due to cyclones and floods.

Cumulatively, owing to conflict and natural disasters, eight per cent of Yemen’s population now remains displaced.

> According to the news release, the report consolidates data from the UNHCR Population Movement Tracking system and the IOM Displacement Tracking Matrix, enabling the release of the most comprehensive estimates of displaced population figures and trends in Yemen to date.

UNHCR reaches embattled Taizz from Aden with life-saving aid

Press Releases, 23 March 2016

Earlier this week, UNHCR sent thirteen trucks carrying blankets, mattresses, and other badly needed emergency relief items to Taizz governorate in the highlands of the country’s southwest. This was a breakthrough since it was the first time a UNHCR convoy made it through all the way from Aden to Taizz.

Dispatched in coordination with the Government of Yemen’s High Relief Committee, the convoy arrived on Sunday in Mashra’a Wa Hadnan, a district immediately south of the embattled Taizz city centre. Distribution is starting this week for 500 displaced people, others who have returned to Taizz, plus local families who have been affected by the conflict.

Another 13 trucks are on their way to nearby Sabir Al Mawadim district and will be distributed among another 500 families. In Mashra’a Wa Hadnan the situation is now calm and some displaced families have been returning to their homes, while fighting persists on the eastern part of Sabir Al Mawadim.

“The two districts host over 7,500 displaced people. It is the first time that assistance has been delivered there using the direct route from Aden,” said UNHCR Representative in Yemen Johannes van der Klaauw. “The wider governorate of Taizz hosts 555,048 internally displaced people, the biggest concentration in the country and equal to almost a quarter of the 2.4 million total Yemen-wide,” he added.

For months, UNHCR has been advocating for regular and sustained humanitarian access to Taizz city and governorate. Now, with key roads into Taizz reopened since March 11 after nine months of blocked access, UNHCR is taking advantage of the opportunity to get help to people who desperately need it. This includes aid, vital protection and shelter help.

While continued intense fighting is being reported in parts of Yemen, a lull in the conflict in other areas is opening space for UNHCR and other humanitarian organizations, including local humanitarian actors, to reach more people. To the north of Taizz, in Ibb governorate, which hosts over 100,000 displaced people, UNHCR is currently mapping how to address the needs. Further north, reduced violence along the Yemen-Saudi border over the last two weeks has allowed us to distribute emergency aid in Sa’ada. In coordination with relevant authorities, we’re hoping further assessments of needs and distributions will be possible over the next days.

Later this week UNHCR and a partner will distribute emergency relief carried in a third convoy from Aden to the Ash Shamayatayn district of Taizz, an area that hosts 159,444 displaced people, according to our protection monitoring. Since October, UNHCR has been providing rental subsidies, cash assistance, legal assistance, and counseling as well as psychosocial care through a partner organisation.

“Ultimately, a halt to the hostilities remains the only way to end the suffering and ensure access to humanitarian aid across the country”, said van der Klaauw. “UNHCR is hopeful that a lasting, country-wide ceasefire can be brokered among the parties as this will open up further space to provide essential humanitarian assistance on the ground.”

UNHCR assistance in Taizz complements the work of other humanitarian partners, UN agencies, non-governmental organisations, the Government of Yemen and other humanitarian relief agencies including from the GCC countries. Country-wide, since March of last year up to this week, UNHCR has assisted 380,140 IDPs and other conflict-affected persons in all governorates in Yemen except the island of Socotra.

In addition to the 2.4 million people displaced internally, over 173,000 individuals have fled Yemen since last March into neighbouring countries, mainly in Djibouti, Ethiopia, Somalia, Sudan and the GCC countries.

The 2016 UNHCR Yemen Situation Supplementary Appeal received $12M in contributions, representing 7% of the required US$172.2M. UNHCR’s response inside Yemen is 9% funded against the required US$125.98M.

UNHCR Photos from Yemen available here: http://media.unhcr.org/Package/2CZ7A2PQ81QK

B-roll from Yemen and of Yemeni refugees in the Horn of Africa:http://media.unhcr.org/Share/151dj8q6d7w660cj5kqpi213sds1r3l6

For more information, please contact:

  • UNHCR Yemen, Teddy Leposky, +962 798660268 (Amman)
  • Andy Needham, Geneva on mobile +41 79 217 3140

UNHCR provides emergency relief to Yemen cyclone displaced

News Stories, 6 November 2015

 The UN refugee agency has provided emergency relief including tents, bedding and cooking utensils to more than 1,600 families displaced by Cyclone Chapala, which struck the Arabian Sea coast of Yemen in recent days sweeping away houses, boats and livestock.

Chapala made landfall on November 3 in Yemen’s Hadramaut governorate, before churning across neighbouring Shabwah, Al Maharah and Socotra. Early reports indicated that about 1,600 families were displaced in Hadramaut, 150 in Shabwah, 25 in Al Maharah, and hundreds more in Socotra.

“The effects of Chapala have been most severe in Shabwah and Hadramaut, with a combined population of about 1.9 million people. Jilaa, a village of around 1,150 persons in Shabwah governorate was completely washed away and further reports are coming in of devastation,” UNHCR spokesperson Andreas Needham told reporters at a news conference in Geneva.

“Seventy six per cent of the population, or 1.4 million people, in these governorates were already in need of humanitarian assistance, including over 100,000 displaced people and over 27,000 refugees and migrants,” he added.

A day before the cyclone struck, UNHCR moved 1,000 tents and 3,000 Non Food Item kits containing items ranging from blankets and mattresses to plastic buckets and kitchen sets to Al Mukalla in Hadramaut, and UNHCR partners began distributing them on November 4. An initial 350 families were reached in Hadramaut and distributions are ongoing in affected areas.

The refugee agency also brought in 5,000 emergency shelter kits, comprising plastic sheets, poles, hammers, nails, ropes and other items, to neighbouring Al Mukalla governorate. Throughout the preparations and response, UNHCR has been coordinating with authorities, other UN agencies, NGOs, civil society organisations and through the sub-national Protection and Shelter Clusters in Aden.

In advance of the cyclone, the Yemeni island of Socotra situated 350km from the mainland in the Arabian Sea, also experienced widespread destruction and displacement, with many people taking shelter in caves, schools, or in the homes of relatives. At least 170 houses on the island were fully damaged and a further 610 partially damaged.

UNHCR in Yemen had been in contact with colleagues in Somaliland and Puntland to dissuade refugees, asylum-seekers, and migrants primarily from Ethiopia and Somalia,- from taking boats to Yemen due to the dangerous conditions at sea as a result of Chapala.

There have been no reported new arrivals since November 1. In the year to date, UNHCR has counted nearly 70,000 new arrivals along the Red and Arabian Sea coasts of Yemen. Over 11,000 arrived in October along the Arabian Sea coast and received reception and medical services from UNHCR’s Mayfa’a reception centre in Shabwah, which so far weathered well through the storm with only minor damage although the cyclone season is still active.

UNCHR has learned that a new cyclonic storm, Megh, is headed toward the coast and could develop in a second cyclone, to reach Socotra on Sunday (November 8). UNHCR and other humanitarian agencies are further scaling up their preparedness and response measures. Colleagues in Somalia have once again issued warnings to would-be crossers through partner and community networks.

Yemen has 21.1 million persons in need of some form of humanitarian assistance, including access to food, health care and safe drinking water, and over 2.3 million internally displaced persons stemming from the escalation of the conflict since late March of this year.

Over the last several months arrivals had shifted primarily to the Arabian Sea coast to avoid intense conflict areas centred in Taizz governorate situated on the Red Sea coast of Yemen.

UNHCR provides tents, emergency relief items to Cyclone Chapala displaced in Yemen

Briefing Notes, 6 November 2015

This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Andreas Needham to whom quoted text may be attributed at the press briefing, on 6 November 2015, at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

Tropical Cyclone Chapala made landfall on 3 November in Hadramaut governorate before moving into Shabwah along the Arabian Sea coast of Yemen. Strong winds, heavy rains and flooding has destroyed house, boats and livestock, and disrupted services. Early reports indicate that around 1,600 families have been displaced in Hadramaut, some 150 in Shabwah, 25 in Al Maharah, and hundreds more on Socotra.

A day before landfall, UNHCR moved 3,000 NFI kits and 1,000 tents to Al Mukalla in Hadramaut, and UNHCR partners began distribution on 4 November. An initial 350 families were reached in Hadramaut and distributions are ongoing in affected areas. UNHCR is also bringing in 5,000 emergency shelter kits to Al Mukalla. Throughout the preparations and response, UNHCR has been coordinating with authorities, other UN agencies, NGOs, civil society organisations and through the sub-national Protection and Shelter Clusters in Aden.

The effects of Chapala have been most severe in Shabwah and Hadramaut, with a combined population of about 1.9 million people. Jilaa, a village of around 1,150 persons in Shabwah governorate was completely washed away and further reports are coming in of devastation. Seventy six per cent (1.4 million) of the population in these governorates were already in need of humanitarian assistance, which includes over 100,000 displaced people and over 27,000 refugees and migrants.

In advance of the cyclone, The Yemeni island of Socotra situated 350km from the mainland in the Arabian Sea, also experienced widespread destruction and displacement, with many taking shelter in caves, schools, or in the homes of relatives. At least 170 houses on the island were fully damaged and a further 610 partially damaged.

UNHCR in Yemen had been in contact with colleagues in Somaliland and Puntland to dissuade refugees, asylum-seekers, and migrants primarily from Ethiopia and Somalia,- from taking boats to Yemen due to the dangerous conditions at sea as a result of Chapala,. There have been no reported new arrivals since 1 November. Thus far in 2015 UNHCR has counted nearly 70,000 new arrivals along the Red and Arabian Sea coasts. Over 11,000 arrived in October along the Arabian Sea coast and received reception and medical services from UNHCR’s Mayfa’a reception centre in Shabwah, which so far weathered well through the storm with only minor damage to the premises.

We have been informed that a new tropical storm is on its way and may develop in a second cyclone, to reach Socotra on Sunday 8 November. UNHCR and other humanitarian agencies are further scaling up their preparedness and response measures. Colleagues in Somalia have once again issued warnings to would-be crossers through partner and community networks.

Over the last several months arrivals had shifted primarily to the Arabian Sea coast to avoid intense conflict areas centred in Taizz governorate situated on the Red Sea coast of Yemen. Yemen has 21.1 million persons in need of some form of humanitarian assistance, including access to food, health care and safe drinking water, and over 2.3 million internally displaced persons stemming from the escalation of the conflict since late March of this year.

For more information on this topic, please contact:

  • Teddy Leposky on mobile +962 79 866 0268
  • Andreas Needham in Geneva, on mobile +41 79 217 3140

Despite conflict, refugees continue to arrive by boat in Yemen

Briefing Notes, 27 October 2015

This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Adrian Edwards to whom quoted text may be attributed at the press briefing, on 27 October 2015, at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

Despite on-going conflict and a deepening humanitarian crisis, almost 70,000 refugees, asylum-seekers, and migrants primarily from Ethiopia and Somalia have arrived by boat in Yemen so far this year. More than half of these arrivals have been since the conflict erupted in March.

UNHCR and its partners provide shelter, food and medical care in the Mayfa’a reception centre for those arriving on the Arabian Sea coast.

For those arriving along the Red Sea coast, reception facilities have been suspended after an attack destroyed a village hosting new arrivals in Bab el Mandab (last week, the remaining reception installations were looted). As a result of the attack, two partner staff who were working in the transit centre were killed: a Yemen Red Crescent medical assistant and a Somali refugee who was working as an interpreter.

Travel to Yemen is particularly perilous three weeks earlier a boat with migrants and refugees capsized in the Arabian Sea en route to Yemen. Of the 68 passengers, only 33 survived: 32 were rescued by a passing boat and one managed to swim to shore. UNHCR’s partner, Nansen award winner Society for Humanitarian Solidarity (SHS) arrived to take the survivors to their clinic in Mayfa’a for treatment. Since the beginning of the year there have been 88 recorded deaths at sea between the Horn of Africa and Yemen.

Most of the movements to Yemen have shifted to the Arabian Sea coast where people believe the situation is calmer over 10,000 new arrivals in September, a 50 per cent increase on August, and over 10,000 so far in October. UNHCR and its partners have been able to provide reception and medical services. While some are Somali refugees who had previously fled Yemen, the majority are Ethiopian migrants for whom Yemen is a transit stop on a journey in search of better opportunities.

Yemen itself is meanwhile seeing a continue rise in the number of people who are displaced internally. On 15 October an IOM-UNHCR displacement-tracking mechanism published new data showing that the IDP population has reached a record-high of 2,305,048 people.

This figure is up from 545,719 individuals in mid-May. Today close to one out of ten Yemenis has had to seek refuge elsewhere in the country as a result of on-going conflict or lack of basic services and a minimum of livelihood opportunities. UNHCR along with other humanitarian actors continue to support the Yemeni people in addressing their needs despite the tremendous challenges.

UNHCR has provided emergency relief items to 22,883 IDP families (147,386 individuals) since the end of March. Access to the affected populations, however, remains a key concern as many of those in dire need remain in areas cut-off due to conflict. UNHCR is monitoring the conditions of displaced people with specific needs such as women, children, older persons and those with medical conditions. Through regular assessments it is able to target the delivery of its protection services to those with critical needs. Community centres also provide legal and social services.

Regrettably, the conflict rages in the country and the Yemeni population are bearing the brunt. UNHCR calls on all parties to the conflict to protect the lives and rights of civilians, including refugees and the internally displaced. Refugees have lost their livelihoods and many are again uprooted as they move to other parts of the country. UNHCR has increased its social assistance and protection services to the ever-increasing number of vulnerable refugees.

Today Yemen hosts 264,615 refugees, of which 250,260 are Somali. Over 121,000 people have fled Yemen to neighbouring countries since March.

For more information on this topic, please contact:

  • Teddy Leposky on mobile, +967 71 2222 5121 (Yemen); +962798660268 (Jordan)
  • Adrian Edward in Geneva, on mobile +41 79 557 9120
  • Andreas Needham in Geneva, on mobile +41 79 217 3140

Refugees continue to reach Yemen by sea despite conflict

Ethiopian and Somali refugees at the Mayfa'a reception centre in Yemen.

Ethiopian and Somali refugees at the Mayfa’a reception centre in Yemen.

GENEVA, Oct 27 (UNHCR)

Almost 70,000 refugees, asylum-seekers, and migrants primarily from Ethiopia and Somalia have reached Yemen by sea so far this year, despite on-going conflict and a deepening humanitarian crisis there, the UN refugee agency said on Tuesday.

The strife-torn country now hosts 264,615 refugees, of whom 250,260 are Somali. More than half of the arrivals to reach Yemeni shores this year have done so since the conflict erupted in March.

UNHCR and its partners provide shelter, food and medical care in the Mayfa’a reception centre for those arriving via the Arabian Sea coast.

Reception facilities for those reaching Yemen via the Red Sea have been suspended after a fatal attack destroyed a village hosting new arrivals in Bab el Mandab.

As a result of the attack, two partner staff who were working in the transit centre were killed. One of the dead was a Yemen Red Crescent medical assistant and the other a Somali refugee working as an interpreter.

Travel to Yemen is particularly perilous. Since the beginning of the year there have been 88 recorded deaths at sea between the Horn of Africa and Yemen.

Three weeks ago a boat with migrants and refugees capsized in the Arabian Sea. Of the 68 passengers, only 33 survived. Thirty-two were rescued by a passing boat and one managed to swim to shore.

Most of the movements to Yemen have shifted to the Arabian Sea coast where people believe the situation is calmer over 10,000 new arrivals in September, a 50 per cent increase on August, and over 10,000 so far in October.

UNHCR and its partners have been able to provide reception and medical services. While some are Somali refugees who had previously fled Yemen, the majority are Ethiopian migrants for whom Yemen is a transit stop on a journey in search of better opportunities.

Yemen itself is meanwhile seeing a continuing rise in the number of people who are displaced internally. On 15 October an IOM-UNHCR displacement-tracking mechanism published new data showing that the IDP population has reached a record-high of 2,305,048 people.

This figure is up from 545,719 individuals in mid-May. Today close to 1 out of 10 Yemenis has had to seek refuge elsewhere in the country as a result of on-going conflict or lack of basic services and a minimum of livelihood opportunities.

“Regrettably, the conflict rages in the country and the Yemeni population are bearing the brunt. UNHCR calls on all parties to the conflict to protect the lives and rights of civilians, including refugees and the internally displaced,” UNHCR spokesperson Adrian Edwards told a news conference in Geneva.

“Refugees have lost their livelihoods and many are again uprooted as they move to other parts of the country,” he added.

UNHCR has provided emergency relief items to 22,883 IDP families (147,386 individuals) since the end of March. Access to the affected populations, however, remains a key concern as many of those in dire need remain in areas cut-off due to conflict.

The UN refugee agency is monitoring the conditions of displaced people with specific needs such as women, children, older persons and those with medical conditions. Through regular assessments it is able to target the delivery of its protection services to those with critical needs. Community centres also provide legal and social services.

Over 121,000 people have fled Yemen to neighbouring countries since March.

IOM, UNHCR work together to aid migrants and refugees fleeing Yemen

6 October 2015 – Kenya

Representatives from IOM and UNHCR have presented a Regional Refugee and Migrant Response Plan (RRMRP) to respond to the crisis in Yemen at a donor meeting held in Nairobi on October 5th. The plan will cost USD 36 million from October to December 2015 and may cost a further USD 119 million in 2016.

The RRMRP covering the period of October-December 2015 is the outcome of an inter-agency planning process coordinated by IOM, UNHCR and partner agencies in Djibouti, Ethiopia, Somalia and Sudan.

It aims to deliver protection and humanitarian assistance to an estimated 103,000 people fleeing the conflict in Yemen to neighboring countries by the end of 2015. This figure could rise to 202,000 by the end of 2016.

It also provides preliminary estimates for 2016, including population planning figures and an indicative budget. The 2016 plan will be revised and updated later this year.

March 2015 marked an escalation of the conflict in Yemen, triggering the flight of thousands of Yemenis, refugees (mainly Somalis), and third country nationals. To date, close to 70,000 people fleeing the crisis have arrived in Djibouti, Ethiopia, Somalia and Sudan. Up to 44,080 people are reported to have arrived in Saudi Arabia and Oman.

Speaking at the Nairobi meeting, IOM Permanent Observer to the UN in New York Ashraf El Nour emphasized the importance of a coordinated and strategic approach in addressing the needs of affected people.

“The needs of individuals coming to Somalia, Ethiopia, Sudan and Djibouti are multiple. Refugees and migrants arrive after many hours at sea often traumatized and exhausted, with few personal belongings, and in urgent need of food, water and emergency healthcare. The most pressing response therefore is to address their basic needs and to register and provide documentation to enable access to essential services,” he said.

Countries around Yemen have shown great solidarity by welcoming people fleeing the crisis. Djibouti, Ethiopia, Somalia and Sudan have granted prima facie refugee status to Yemenis arriving on their soil, while also allowing people of other nationalities fleeing Yemen to stay.

Somalis are now returning home, hoping to rebuild their lives in their own country. Saudi Arabia has also regularized the status of hundreds of thousands of Yemeni migrants.

IOM has helped irregular Ethiopian migrants who were in Yemen to return to Ethiopia. It has also helped other third country nationals stranded in Yemen to return to their home countries.

UNHCR’s Regional Refugee Coordinator for the Yemen situation Claire Bourgeois said: “Today, more than ever before, governments, humanitarian, development and other actors have the duty to ensure that people in need are not neglected. They must be able to restore dignity to their lives as efforts are made to find lasting solutions to their plight.”

An interactive Refugee and Migrants Response Plan web portal that provides in-depth information on the situation in Yemen and the resultant outflow of migrants and refugees was launched in September 2015.

The portal (http://data.unhcr.org/yemen/) allows public users to access the RRMRP, together with statistics, situation reports and other related information. IOM and UNHCR have called on the public and media to use the portal to keep abreast of the humanitarian situation in Yemen.

For further information, please contact Craig Murphy at IOM Kenya, Tel: +254 717711822, Email: cmurphy@iom.int or
Dorothy Lusweti at UNHCR Djibouti, Tel: +253 77 22 79 14, Email: lusweti@unhcr.org