Humanitarian partners reported 759 access incidents in September and October across 43 districts in 15 governorates in Yemen, an increase of nearly 50 per cent compared with July and August. While humanitarian operations are slowly returning to pre-COVID-19 levels following the lifting of associated restrictions and precautionary measures, reported access incidents are increasing to the scale seen in the beginning of 2020, indicating that the operational environment in Yemen remains extremely challenging for humanitarian partners.
There was a change in areas of control in Marib Governorate during the reporting period. Ongoing hostilities and heightened security measures imposed by local security and military actors have further challenged the humanitarian response and regular programme deliveries, and there has been a ten-fold increase in incidents reported in the Governorate. These mainly relate to movement restrictions, include the detention of and threats against humanitarian personnel, which together with active conflict have resulted in programme suspensions.
Restrictions on the movement of humanitarian organizations, personnel and goods within and into Yemen remained the most widely reported constraint for humanitarian operations, with 492 incidents reported. These mainly relate to long-standing challenges around delays to and denials of travel permits for road movements and arbitrary ad hoc blockages at checkpoints. This was exacerbated by an increase in violence against humanitarian personnel reported both in northern and southern Yemen. In addition, the authorities continued to delay and refuse visas and residency permits for international humanitarian personnel.
Another major constraint was continued interference in humanitarian activities by the authorities in Yemen. Over 226 incidents were reported, mainly involving delays and denials of NGO project sub-agreements (SAs) and associated attempts to arbitrarily interfere in project design, often in contravention of organizational and donor rules and regulations. While there has been progress in expediting approvals of delayed SAs with the Government of Yemen (GoY) and Ansar Allah (AA) authorities, humanitarian stakeholders continue to work with the authorities to establish accountable and principled procedures for timely SA approvals.
By the end of October, 79 NGO projects were reported to remain unimplemented, in part or in full, due to pending sub-agreements approvals. The pending projects target up to 4.5 million people in need and have a cumulative budget of US$175 million. During the reporting period, 46 SAs were reported to be approved, with the GoY and AA each approving 23 SAs. The issue remains most acute in northern Yemen where AA approval can take an average of between 150 and 160 days.