SANA’A – UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, is calling for further efforts and resources to address the acute and growing humanitarian needs inside Yemen, nine years since the war began.
Yemen is facing a protracted displacement and protection crisis where millions – including Yemenis, refugees and asylum-seekers – are suffering the consequences of war, climate shocks and economic deterioration.
Yemen remains one of the worst humanitarian crises in the world, with 4.5 million people internally displaced and more than two-thirds of the population living below the poverty line. Despite their hardships, Yemeni communities are over-stretched and yet they shelter some 100,000 refugees and asylum seekers from other war-torn countries. UNHCR is the only international agency addressing their protection and humanitarian needs. In 2023, the UN estimates that 21.6 million people in Yemen will require humanitarian assistance and protection support. This is nearly three-quarters of the population.
Civilians witnessed a glimpse of calm when the warring parties signed a truce last April. The six-month, UN-brokered truce led to a decline in civilian casualties. Throughout the truce, new internal displacement fell by 76 per cent. The current absence of an official truce and the fragile political and security situation is leaving people’s lives in limbo. The uncertainty – there is no formal peace deal in place, but conflict hasn’t restarted – is wreaking havoc on the economy and all aspects of life.
“We mustn’t forget the plight of those desperately in need in Yemen. The magnitude of this crisis has touched every family across the country — now nine years into this conflict,” said Maya Ameratunga, UNHCR’s Representative in Yemen. “We know well the heart-rending stories. Far too many have lost their homes, their loved ones and their livelihoods. They lack a social safety net or access to essential services, making them more vulnerable to all kind of threats and risks, resulting in severe psychological distress.”
As many as 93 per cent of displaced Yemeni families have at least one family member with a vulnerability, such as someone living with injuries or exhibiting psychological distress, a child engaged in labor, or an elderly person with no care in place. The impact of prolonged conflict and displacement, combined with lack of livelihoods, basic services and food, is driving increased protection risks: children drop out of schools; many end up working to support their families by begging; widows and other single women are heading households and early marriage of girls has become a survival strategy for many.
Although humanitarian assistance to Yemen remains severely underfunded, the needs continue to grow. “We are seeing displaced Yemenis struggling to find solutions,” Ameratunga added. “Many are trying to restart their lives by returning home to devastated areas, integrating within communities in places of displacement or relocating elsewhere in the country. They, too, need support to rebuild their lives.”
With increased support, humanitarians would be able to reach more vulnerable families with assistance and services like legal and psychosocial support or programs that specifically help protect children and other vulnerable community members. UNHCR also has a cash assistance program supporting the most vulnerable to address life-saving needs, as well as shelter programs to respond to the difficult housing situation affecting many Yemenis.
So far this year, UNHCR has received just 8 per cent of the US$ 320 million it requires for its work in Yemen in 2023.
Yemenis cannot be abandoned. The magnitude and scale of the needs of the people deserve the world’s attention and support. Ahead of today’s High Level Pledging Conference for Yemen which can be viewed here, UNHCR calls on the international community to commit to and stand by the people of Yemen, who deserve a life of dignity in safety.
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