After more than seven years of war and economic crisis, Yemen remains one of the world’s top humanitarian crises. More than two-thirds of the population need assistance, and nearly half relies on humanitarian aid to survive. The displacement and protection crisis continues to deteriorate as well - in early 2022, an estimated 4.3 million people remained internally displaced by the conflict and disasters, with 1.6 million having settled in 2,358 spontaneous, unplanned sites. Yemen might be perceived as a protracted crisis, but it’s far from stable as millions of Yemenis continue to suffer daily from the effects of the conflict and climate change, as well as from the most recent escalating hostilities.
The last four months of 2021 saw the displacement of more than 65,000 women, girls, men and boys due to hostilities in Ma’rib and surrounding governorates. In January 2022 alone, violence in several frontlines resulted in more than 650 civilian casualties including children and thousands of newly displaced people. In addition, widespread damage to civilian property and infrastructure has been reported, limiting people’s abilities to access basic services and increasing already existing vulnerabilities.
Conflict and climate-related disasters continue to drive internal displacement, increasing the number of vulnerable people, worsening the humanitarian situation and jeopardizing efforts to provide relief. Despite the scale of needs, severe funding shortfalls over the years have led to drastic cuts or the halting of critical aid programs. This comes at a time when most vulnerable people are increasingly unable to cope. Millions of people in Yemen continue to count on generous donor support and aid agencies for their survival, but the country requires increased support.
The protection of internally displaced Yemenis through the provision of protection, specific services in sites and shelter/NFI assistance should remain a constant focus. This is crucial to respond to and prevent grave violations of international humanitarian and human rights law, and promote the safe access to sites and safe service provision.
- The humanitarian crisis in Yemen remains drastically underfunded and people are as a result being left without access to life-saving support.
In 2021, the funding received for the HRP was merely 60%, with the Protection/AoRs, Shelter and NFI and CCCM clusters each receiving less than 50% of their required funds:
- The Protection Cluster and its AoRs were funded at 47%, allowing protection partners to only deliver specialized protection services to 37% of the total people targeted. With the current funding shortfalls, over 1 million women and girls will soon no longer have access to reproductive health and GBV services3.
- The Shelter and NFI Cluster (SNFI) received an estimated 42% of the required funding, allowing partners to only reach 47% of the total population targeted. The lack of funding is hampering the provision of life-saving shelter and NFI solutions, and limits the possible scale up of programs for more sustainable shelter solutions.
- The CCCM Cluster received 28.1% of the required 2021 HRP with which partners were able to reach 67% of the total population targeted. Only a quarter of IDP sites were managed and supported by CCCM, and partners could only address a few key maintenance gaps in 16% of sites due to limited resources.
- Housing, Land and Property (HLP) disputes lead to eviction threats, impede the provision of humanitarian Shelter and CCCM assistance and exacerbate protection risks of displaced people.
- HLP issues4 remain a significant challenge to the effective delivery of humanitarian assistance. Disputes about land and property also weaken the precarious relationship between IDPs and their host communities, exacerbates tensions and gives rise to protection challenges, such as risks of forced eviction.
- Around 80% of IDP sites have no tenancy agreement, which led in 2021 to 70 IDP sites receiving eviction threats, affecting 7,500 families. Evictions of IDPs have increased the demand for suitable land and sustainable housing solutions, but these needs can rarely be met.
- After seven years of conflict, the protracted nature of the crisis, coupled with funding shortages, imply a focus on emergency life-saving support, but there is an urgent need to find more durable solutions for the internally displaced in Yemen.
- Millions of IDPs have been displaced for years and/or have had to flee their homes several times, but protection, SNFI and CCCM actors’ ability to progress to durable longer-term solutions have been severely hampered due to funding shortages, access constraints and HLP disputes.
- In 87% of the IDP sites assessed, the most common intention mentioned was to stay in the sites.
- In areas where returns are possible, supporting repairs of damaged or destroyed houses is vital.
Recommendations to donors and the humanitarian community in Yemen:
- Increase the level of funding in line with the needs and priorities outlined in the HRP by committing and disbursing the funds immediately, with a focus on local and national partners’ capacities.
- Additional funding for life-saving protection services would allow the immediate provision of specialized protection support in women's safe spaces, community centers, child protection critical services, land release through mine clearance, and enable vulnerable groups, especially women, boys and girls, to access an integrated protection response which increases capacities to cope and addresses emotional distress.
- With more funding, shelter actors could provide adequate and dignified shelter and essential NFIs to the 6.8 million Yemenis in need of assistance. By ensuring people have a shelter, it has positive outcomes on other needs (such as health, livelihoods, education) and can contribute to creating more social cohesion.
- Increased funding to the CCCM Cluster would allow it to monitor services and living conditions in more IDP sites, as well as improve basic infrastructure gaps to prevent disease, mitigate environmental and protection risks, and ensure safe, dignified and equal access to services. Cash for maintenance, community-led projects, and capacity building are crucial for empowerment of all IDPs.
- Encourage dialogue and coordination among all actors to solve HLP disputes.
- The CCCM Cluster has a response mechanism engaging several actors in negotiations with landlords and relocation with positive results: 34% of threats reported in 2021 were resolved through negotiations, and 18% ended in relocation of IDPs to other sites.
- The three clusters (Shelter/NFI, CCCM and Protection/AoRs) will continue to work closely with HLP experts in Yemen to enhance and expand the existing eviction response mechanism. Establishing secure-enough tenure arrangements allows more durable shelter solutions to be provided. Dedicated resources for HLP response is also essential to guarantee specialized services and empowerment of marginalized groups including women head of households, children head of households and persons with disabilities.
- More coordination between humanitarian actors, local authorities and other stakeholders is also crucial in the light of the Climate Emergency and the additional protection risks these bring. By strengthening HLP activities and dialogue with authorities, settlements in areas prone to flooding could be avoided, for example.
- Support the efforts to find durable solutions for IDPs, when possible.
- As civilians continue to bear the brunt of protracted armed conflict, the continuous circle of recurrent emergency response needs to stop, and investments in longer-term more durable solutions need to be considered. Clusters have been promoting linkages between humanitarian and development actors through the various coordination mechanisms, and some humanitarian actors are already implementing resilience programs, but more support is required.
- With the consequences of the Climate Emergency already being felt, investments in more durable shelter and infrastructure are urgent. Cluster partners are engaging with local authorities and other stakeholders to explore opportunities and linkages within an integrated multi-sectoral program approach, to enhance the continuum between emergency to durable solutions in order to increase resilience of affected people and the shelter they inhabit. Collective efforts remain critical to respond to the demands of IDPs for more durable solutions.