Yemen: Negotiating access, reaching more people in need

The humanitarian situation in Yemen deteriorated rapidly throughout 2011 due to a widespread armed conflict. The upsurge in violence and presence of several different armed groups—the de facto authorities—made it difficult for aid organizations to access the country’s conflict affected regions, especially in the north.

To help ensure safe access for assessment missions and relief work, OCHA led efforts to develop trust between armed groups and humanitarian agencies in the northern Sa’ada governorate. OCHA met with non-State actors to explain the importance of humanitarian principles and developed a joint inter-agency response plan with humanitarian partners.

Since December 2011, de facto authorities and other non-State actors have become active participants at coordination and cluster meetings where open discussions on access constraints have led to practical solutions. The number of humanitarian projects implemented through the common response plan has increased and relief has reached over 160,000 people in Sa’ada - this represents an almost 50 per cent increase since late 2010.

“Thanks to OCHA’s efforts, access has improved and allowed us to deliver humanitarian assistance,” says Hashem Awnallah, Country Director of Islamic Relief Yemen. “There is still a communication gap between the humanitarian community and the de facto rulers regarding protection issues, especially relating to women and children. We need to continue to insist on unimpeded access and full respect for universal humanitarian principles.”

The OCHA-led access-negotiation process will continue in Yemen in 2012. This work is part of a global Access Monitoring and Reporting Framework that has been implemented in 12 countries where the humanitarian community experiences the most persistent and significant access constraints. The framework helps to identify specific access constraints, establish patterns and understand the impact of a lack of access on people who need humanitarian assistance.

OCHA’s access-related support is tailored to each context and is determined by the Humanitarian Country Team (HCT). Humanitarian Coordinators and HCTs use OCHA’s access data and analysis to inform operational planning, deal with specific constraints and negotiate with those who can facilitate safe access.


The recruitment of children by armed forces and armed groups is ongoing across Yemen, in areas like Sa’ada, Abyan, and Sana’a. © Yemen Humanitarian Team