UNHCR Yemen 2019 Operational context
According to the United Nations, Yemen has been the "Worst humanitarian crisis in the world," for the past two years. Despite the Hudaydah Agreement signed in December 2018, the fighting continued in many areas of the country, such as Hajjah in the north, Al Dhale' e in the south and Hudaydah along the west coast. Within a year, another 400,000 Yemenis were forced to flee their homes, eventually adding up to one-eighth of the entire Yemeni population who had become displaced at least once, over the last five years.
In 2019, unprecedented heavy rain and flooding from May onwards caused catastrophic damage to homes and the families’ livelihoods, adding to their misery. Thousands of families who had already lost their home due to the fighting had yet again, their temporary shelters, beddings and essential kitchen supplies, destroyed.
Political differences led to renewed fighting around Aden in the south of Yemen from August when the Southern Transitional Council took control of the city. The power-sharing deal brokered by Saudi Arabia that was signed in November 2019, is yet to be fully implemented.
Despite the ongoing fighting and uncertainties related to peace processes, a record-high number of refugees and asylum-seekers arrived in Yemen to seek protection and safety. The International Organization for Migration (IOM) estimates that around 132,200 individuals, mostly Ethiopians, reached Yemen in 2019, as well as a record-high number of 37,000 individuals between April and May. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) encourages newcomers to register their status as asylum-seekers if they wish with authorities to legalize their stay, protect them against forced returns, and give them access to health and education services. In 2019, the Government, along with UNHCR, registered a total of 8,436 refugees through four registration centres in the south of Yemen. However, it is estimated that a staggering 150,000 refugees and asylum-seekers remain unregistered, which is leaving them at higher risk of abuse and lack of access to essential services such as health and education. By the end of 2019, Yemen was hosting an estimated 280,000 refugees and asylum-seekers, mainly from Somalia (96 per cent) and Ethiopia (3.8 per cent).
In terms of coordination mechanisms for the humanitarian and protection response by national and international partners as well as relevant authorities, UNHCR leads the Protection, Shelter/NFIs (Non-Food Items), Camp Coordination and Camp Management clusters for Internally Displaced People (IDPs), and co-leads with IOM the Refugee and Migrants Multi-Sector (RMMS) for refugees and asylum-seekers. UNHCR also ensures that humanitarian interventions contribute to the overall development of the country. UNHCR supports IDPs and refugees' resilience from the early stages of our humanitarian response.