Humanitarian Situation and current trends
Five key drivers of humanitarian needs in Yemen were identified in 2011 and will still be relevant in 2013: continuing and unpredictable civil unrest; ongoing conflict in northern and southern Yemen; the increasing numbers of refugees, migrants and third-country nationals; the rise in the cost of living; and poor provision of basic services.
There has been a steady upward trend in humanitarian needs since 2011, associated with conflict and displacement. A degree of stabilization returned from July to August 2011. However, renewed fighting in mid-September 2011 again exacerbated conflict-driven humanitarian needs.
According to the IDP Executive Unit, there were over 200,000 registered IDPs in the south and over 550,000 across the country as of August 2012. Displacement levels in the north have stabilized, but 265,000 people (excluding migrants) need humanitarian assistance. Stability in Sa’ada Governorate has enabled humanitarian dialogue, leading to improved access.
Yemen’s underlying economic and fiscal weaknesses will continue to be a major factor in the negative outlook for humanitarian needs for millions of people in acute need. Other sectoral factors have aggravated food insecurity among non-conflict-affected Yemenis. The decline in access to clean water, reduced access to primary health care and poor hygiene practices led to high levels of malnutrition, particularly in coastal areas.
Malnutrition levels nationwide remain high for children under age 5. According to a UNICEF survey in June 2012, acute malnutrition rates in Hudaydah Governorate were as high as 31.7 per cent (“crisis level” as per WHO’s emergency threshold of 5 per cent for severe malnutrition/wasting). Wasting was highly prevalent. In the lowland zones of Lahj, Global Acute Malnutrition (GAM) was at 23 per cent, exceeding the emergency threshold of 15 per cent. In Rayma, GAM was 10.8 per cent, but stunting prevalence was high at 71.4 per cent.
The 2010 Comprehensive Country Assessment noted that social exclusion overlaps with trends in poverty, as illustrated by the fact that the two main vulnerable groups are women and young people. In the World Economic Gender Index, Yemen consistently ranked last in 2007, 2008 and 2009. Currently, 54 per cent of the population lives below the national poverty level while youth unemployment stands at about 53 per cent. There are also socially excluded groups such as akhdam (the marginalized—a reference to Yemeni people of African descent), refugees, disabled people, people living with HIV/AIDS and sex workers.
National and international aid agencies, together with the Government, have continued to reach people in need throughout the crisis despite security problems. Few key development activities are being undertaken by UN agencies in Yemen, as the scale and size of the humanitarian crisis has dominated the agenda of international partners and donors.
To align responses to a common strategy, the Government has developed the Transition Programme for Stabilization and Development. The strategy is two-pronged: to deal with the urgent needs of people and the economy in the short run through measures focused on political stabilization, enhanced security, reconstruction and easing poverty; and to create the foundation for inclusive growth in the medium and long term through public investment and appropriate policy reform. The Yemen Humanitarian Response Plan (YHRP) is aligned to the Government strategy.
It is critical to plug gaps in humanitarian assistance, as they could exacerbate the current crisis, increase humanitarian needs, and undermine the current political transition and prospects for peace and long-term development. The country requires a broad range of support, and rapid interventions are critical.
The Humanitarian Strategy
The strategic objectives for humanitarian action in Yemen that were developed in 2012 will still be relevant in 2013. The plan is further aligned with the Government’s transition plan and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) agreement.
The key objectives for humanitarian action are:
People in acute humanitarian need are identified. Given the chronic lack of data, the CAP’s first priority is to improve capacity to collect and analyse needs data at the level of programmes, clusters and at the inter-cluster/multi-sectoral level.
The mortality level of those in acute humanitarian need remains stable. Life-saving activities need to be increased to maintain the current mortality and morbidity rates.
Local, national and international actors are well prepared to respond to humanitarian needs. Greater preparedness is required due to increasing needs, reduced access in key parts of the country and the uncertainty of an international staff presence due to operational security threats. This will enhance business-continuity plans and fast track partnerships with civil society and local NGOs that deliver assistance.
Vulnerable people are better protected. The high levels of reported human rights abuses associated with civil unrest, displacement and the increasing threat to civilians caused by conflict across the country have significantly increased protection needs. The need for strengthened advocacy is required at national and international levels through individual agencies and clusters, and through the HCT and UN system.
Community resilience and recovery are strengthened. Despite the overwhelming focus on life-saving activities, early recovery and preventative programming is possible in key parts of the country, particularly in the north where there is progress in supporting livelihoods and rehabilitating infrastructure. Prevention and preparedness at the community level are reducing the burden on the international community to deliver assistance to conflict-affected people.
To deliver on these strategic objectives, and to allow for all programming across the country to be better coordinated and tailored to regional needs, the CAP 2012 was broken into three formal response plans for the north, south and central/west. Each plan addresses the priority needs of all cluster target groups, including people who are food insecure, malnourished and without access to health care. The plans also address the conflict-driven humanitarian needs of IDPs, refugees, asylum seekers, migrants, non-displaced war-affected people and host communities.
The strategy for the north (Sa’ada, Hajjah, Amran, Sana’a, Al-Jawf, Marib Governorates) revolves around early recovery, resilience programming and residual life-saving assistance to be provided in all sectors in Sa’ada. In Hajjah and other Governorates, priorities will be maintenance-support programmes for displaced people in camps and host communities, and assistance to new IDPs and migrants in all sectors. The plan will also address the needs of hosts and non-conflict-affected Yemeni people, and of refugees, asylum seekers and migrants in Hajjah.
The strategy for the south (Aden, Lahj, Abyan, Shawah, Taiz, Al-Dhale'e and Al-Bayda Governorates) is to deliver life-saving assistance to IDPs living in communal shelters and schools and in host communities in Aden, Abyan and Lahj, and to target war-affected people and returnees in Abyan. The needs of hosts and non-conflict-affected Yemeni people are now also a priority following recent joint assessments. As most of the country’s refugees are located in this region, multi-sector assistance will form a major part of the strategy.
The majority of severely food-insecure Yemenis in need of urgent food assistance are in the central/west region (Hudaydah, Al-Mahwit, Raymah, Dhamar, Ibb, Hadramaut and Al-Maharah Governorates). The current targets will be adjusted based on the revised picture of food insecurity from the next Comprehensive Food Security Survey. A smaller proportion of this caseload will also be targeted for nutrition, WASH, health, protection and early recovery assistance in 2013, pending agreement on assessment and programming capacity within these clusters. Although aggregated numbers are smaller, the response plan will continue to address the needs of IDPs, refugees, asylum seekers and migrants.
The humanitarian community in Yemen consists of 23 UN agencies, 45 international NGOs and over 500 local NGOs. The majority of international actors participate in the cluster system. The coordination and information management capacity of the majority of clusters need to be strengthened to meet increasing coordination needs. As needs grow, more coordination capacity is required, particularly in the conflict-affected and food-insecure areas in all regions. New actors from the region have also set up offices in the country to boost humanitarian response. These include the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, the Gulf Cooperation Council, the Khalifa Foundation and Qatari Charity.
The current value of the CAP following the 2012 midyear review is $584.5 million. Food needs account for over 30 per cent, followed by multi-sector (refugees), nutrition, health and shelter. At the midyear review, requirements rose by 27 per cent reflecting increasing needs. Requirements are expected to increase again later in 2012 by 25 to 30 per cent for food and by 15 per cent for new programming in Abyan. The current requirements for the specific programme that was developed in response to the crisis in Abyan total $92 million.
Humanitarian needs will continue to be critical in Yemen over the next 12 months. Street protests, inspired by regional developments, have reignited centuries-old tribal rivalries in Yemen and created a power vacuum that has allowed militants and secessionist movements in the south to regroup and mount effective challenges to Government control across large parts of the country. Al-Houthi’s control of Sa’ada in the north remains strong.
More than half a million Yemenis have been displaced by conflict. Durable solutions are limited in the absence of security and the rule of law. Conflict also affects access for humanitarian agencies. In the north, humanitarian workers have to negotiate for permission to deliver critical supplies. In several areas, the protection environment has deteriorated due to political uncertainty, conflict and limited Government capacity to deliver services.
The underlying structural weaknesses in national economic and fiscal policy mean that general needs will continue to change from chronic to acute for the foreseeable future, as Government services and line functions are unlikely to recover quickly. In the north and south, tribal groups have sought to fragment Government authority, which in turn affects humanitarian operations. Security conditions are still poor. In 2012, international staff had to be partially evacuated, which curtailed humanitarian response. ICRC and a handful of INGOs could only sustain operations through local partners.
Over the next three to five years, the humanitarian situation is unlikely to change. That means the CAP is likely to continue to grow, with increasing requirements for sustained humanitarian programming. Despite the 2011 political solution that led to a change in leadership, it is still unclear if all sides will accept the new political dispensation. Should a stalemate ensue, conflict and economic decline are likely to continue.
Demands on OCHA continue to grow in line with the increasing size of the CAP. The information management, analysis and coordination load has already grown dramatically, with increases in conflict-driven displacement and slow-onset humanitarian needs within the general non-displaced population. The humanitarian community in Yemen is not well prepared to implement the different assessment methodologies and monitoring and programming responses that non-displaced people require.