This update aims to provide a broad summary of UNHCR’s main priorities for Yemen in 2022 and complements the 2022 country strategy available on Global Focus.
More than seven years since the start of the conflict, Yemen continues to face a devastating and unrelenting humanitarian and protection crisis. According to the 2021 Humanitarian Needs Overview (HNO)1 , some 66% of its 30 million population depends on humanitarian assistance for their daily survival. This includes more than 4.2 million internally displaced people (IDPs) and 102,000 refugees and asylum-seekers2. Escalation of conflict, ongoing insecurity, embargoes and a collapsed economy have pushed an estimated 80% of the total population below the poverty line and at serious risk of famine, with IDPs significantly more at risk of food insecurity than other Yemenis.
Internal displacement remains one of the defining features of the Yemen crisis. During 2021 alone, over 157,000 Yemenis were forced to flee their homes due to conflict, particularly in Marib, Taizz, Al-Hudaydah and Al-Bayda governorates. With ongoing and unrelenting hostilities, and in the absence of a negotiated political settlement, the trend of new and protracted displacement is expected to continue in 2022. While opportunities for safe and dignified returns of IDPs may emerge in stable areas, the current socio-economic and security situation and the lack of public services raise concern about the voluntary and sustainable character of returns.
The protection environment throughout the country remains dire. Civilians continue to pay the highest price of the widespread violations of international humanitarian law by parties to the conflict. With displaced women, children, older people, people with disabilities, and other marginalized groups facing heightened protection risks due to the multiple effects of the conflict, weak rule of law, and the deterioration of their socio-economic conditions as displacement becomes increasingly protracted.
UNHCR continues to be the only agency addressing the protection and well-being of some 102,000 refugees and asylum-seekers across Yemen, mainly from Somalia and Ethiopia. Refugees and asylum-seekers pay the toll of a deteriorating socio-economic situation, continue to rely on humanitarian assistance, and are often seen as an additional burden on already overstretched public services. COVID-19 protocols continue to challenge the resumption of assisted returns to Somalia, and the deterioration in the security situation in Ethiopia has negatively affected opportunities for voluntary and safe repatriation, with recent data indicating an increase in the number of asylum-seekers arriving in Yemen, including from Tigray. While arrivals to the country from the East and Horn of Africa mainly represent migratory movements, asylum trends are expected to slightly increase in 2022.
Yemen is further expected to remain one of the most nonpermissive operational environments, with administrative hurdles, attempts by authorities to interfere in humanitarian activities, and security-related obstacles hindering access and shrinking the space for humanitarian interventions. UNHCR will continue to identify and analyse risks associated with this operational environment, take appropriate proactive and reactive mitigating measures, and will strive to uphold humanitarian principles in the delivery of its assistance and services, in cooperation with the wider humanitarian and international community