Photo essay: Helping the people of Yemen caught in warIn March 2015, Yemen’s political and social instability escalated into a nationwide conflict, which until this day, continues to affect its entire population. This photo essay highlights the work being done by the Danish Refugee Council to aid the affected.
The conflict has given rise to a humanitarian crisis that has rendered over 21 million people, or approximately 82 percent of the population, in need of some form of humanitarian assistance to meet their basic and essential needs.
The conflict has caused 2.4 million people to be internally displaced and over 14 million food insecure and in need of access to healthcare. Basic infrastructure and services have collapsed and left millions of Yemenis extremely vulnerable to the effects of the ongoing conflict (including hunger, lack of shelter, injury, disease, rights violations). With no end in sight to the violence and in a context where people have been stripped of their homes, livelihoods and dignity, the provision of humanitarian assistance and early recovery interventions is more important than ever.
DRC in Yemen has responded to the humanitarian emergency through various interventions including provision of unconditional cash assistance, rental subsidies, non-food items, food and livelihood assistance, rehabilitation of WASH facilities, and protection assistance for IDPs, children, returnees, conflict-affected host communities, and mixed migrants.
A 30 year old mother of five says, that she was forced to flee her home with her family because of the fighting.
“I was very content and happy; my husband had a paid job and I worked as a seamstress. We lived a quiet life and focussed on raising our children. Now life has changed.”
Her husband no longer has a job, and they largely rely on food and non-food assistance provided by host communities and NGOs like DRC.
With financial support from DRC, Hala has been able to purchase a sewing machine which she uses to make prayer cloths that she sells to families in the nearby communities. She says, “I am very thankful for the help from DRC and the support from the community here in Amran. The sewing machine really helped me. I am able to sell clothes and feed my children and pay our rent’.
DRC’s assistance reached over 536,000 beneficiaries in 2015, but needs continue to increase in 2016. This year, DRC maintains its focus on emergency assistance to Yemenis, migrants, and refugees.
Last year, DRC through its WASH interventions assisted more than 50,000 beneficiaries in Hajjah and Hodeidah governorates. Interventions included rehabilitation and construction of water supply and sanitation facilities in 18 schools and four health units. Also, 46 school teachers participated in sanitation and hygiene awareness workshops to facilitate improved hygiene practices at schools. These workshops included themes such as the importance of hand washing and ensuring that water is clean and safe before consumption. At the household level, WASH teams provided hygiene kits and water filters to ensure families have access to clean and safe drinking water.
DRC’s Food Security teams provided emergency food assistance to 291,718 vulnerable families in Abyan and Sa’ada governorates over the course of last year. The distributed food parcels contained sufficient food items to feed a family of six for one month and included cereals, pulses, salt, and oil. Displaced Yemeni families who found refuge with host communities in Sa’ada received one-time cash assistance to meet their essential food needs. DRC also provided livelihoods assistance to wheat farmer families in Sa’ada, who received seeds, fertilizer, and fuel for harvesting. This assistance will help secure livelihoods for farming families, increase access to food, and will boost food supply on the local market come harvest time spring of 2016. Both the emergency food and livelihoods assistance activities are continuing in 2016.
Despite the conflict and the widespread insecurity, asylum seekers, refugees, and economic migrants continue to arrive on the shores of Yemen from various countries in the Horn of Africa. Most of the migrants arrive in Yemen from Ethiopia and Somalia, in search of safety and asylum (Somalia) or consider Yemen a transit country on their onward journey to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia or Europe in the hope of finding and securing employment. DRC’s mixed migration field teams operate in the northwest and southern parts of Yemen’s coastline where the majority of the mixed migrants land from the Horn of Africa. The DRC teams who encounter these new arrivals provide immediate assistance in the form of registration (attestation letter), facilitating referrals (to other NGOs or UNHCR/IOM for specialized assistance), and provision of lifesaving kits containing water, food, and clothing. DRC also provides information and counseling on the current situation in Yemen and the current dangers of continuing their journey further into Yemen or the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. DRC’s mixed migration programme is operated in coordination and with support from the IOM and UNHCR. In 2015, DRC assisted a total of 77,060 refugees, asylum seekers and migrants who arrived on the shores of Yemen.
As part of its Protection programme, DRC provides various kinds of cash assistance to vulnerable families and female-headed households, including rental subsidies, cash-for-work, and unconditional cash assistance. Cash assistance is considered one of the most flexible interventions, providing beneficiaries with the dignity and freedom to manage their own money and to spend it on their most urgent needs, such as food, medicine, or health care. DRC provided rental subsidies to over 4,700 families and other forms of cash assistance to almost 2,000 beneficiaries. Other protection activities included monitoring and referral of particularly vulnerable individuals and supporting displaced families, returnees, and host communities with essential services including adequate housing, legal assistance, and psychosocial support.
DRC operated mobile Child Friendly Spaces (CFS) in various parts of Yemen. These spaces provided psychosocial support to more than 57,933 conflict-affected children. CFSs allow children to undertake creative activities, such as drawing, in a safe space overseen by psychosocial therapists. Organised activities have a psychosocial element and are aimed at engaging children in a meaningful way to address trauma, worries, and stress. In addition, since the onset of the conflict, one of DRC’s key activities in the field of child protection is monitoring and reporting of grave violations against children. Last year, DRC reported over 1,800 confirmed cases of maiming and/or killing, or recruitment by armed groups. DRC’s teams also established and supported more than 150 community-based Child Protection Committees throughout the country, which are aimed at identifying children who require monitoring and referral for specific medical or psychosocial services.
This public information piece was generously supported by OCHA
Read more about our work in Yemen here