- Yemen is ranked 140 of 182 on the Human Development Index.
- The country is grappling with various challenges, including poverty, water scarcity, internal conflicts, piracy, terrorism, and decreasing oil production.
- Recent fighting in and around Sa’ada Governorate in North Yemen has led to loss of civilian lives, loss of livelihoods, population displacement and destruction of civilian homes and infrastructure.
- Access to beneficiaries is a major concern. Access is also limited to east of Sana’a due to banditry, presence of armed groups, and Al-Qaeda influence/control of some areas.
- Somali refugees continue to arrive and are scattered in camps and settlements along the southern coast of Yemen. This is coupled with an increasing number of arrivals from Ethiopia and Eritrea.
- Humanitarian and recovery needs remain from the disastrous 2008 floods in Wadi Hadramout.
- Other issues include high malnutrition and under-five mortality rates, poor food security at the household level, and water shortages.
Overall, the humanitarian situation in Yemen is worsening. The recent fighting in Sa’ada Governorate has led to a serious deterioration of access to basic services and goods for a large portion of the population. The latest estimates put the total number of IDPs in Yemen above 175,000, including approximately 100,000 still displaced from earlier rounds of conflict (see Reliefweb map on p. 35). The situation is likely to continue for at least several months; and the humanitarian consequences of the fighting are expected to last much longer. As such, United Nations agencies will have to strengthen their capacity in Yemen to meet the growing demands.
In July 2009, OCHA initially seconded an international HAO to the United Nations RC office in Sana’a, to provide humanitarian coordination support. August 2009 saw the intensification of the conflict, development/monitoring of the Flash Appeal and CAP for 2010, and activation of the cluster system. Ultimately, the establishment of an OCHA Country Office was deemed necessary to ensure proper support to the UNCT and RC in strengthening field coordination, information management, analysis and advocacy. OCHA faces three core coordination challenges in Yemen:
- To build momentum within the UNCT for a comprehensive strategy to create conditions conducive to humanitarian action, including establishing and maintaining access to affected populations.
- To enhance coordination among all humanitarian actors in Yemen, including guidance for how coordination could be improved to reinforce the humanitarian response in a heavily political and volatile environment.
- To scale up the emergency response capacity without undermining development activities.
In 2010, the newly established OCHA office in Yemen will focus on the following: In relation to Objective 2.1 (effective mechanisms that manage and support accountable humanitarian coordination leaders) OCHA will monitor the humanitarian situation and assist RC/HC efforts to ensure that coordination mechanisms are strengthened. It will help set up the necessary architecture to ensure effective coordination for response in support to the RC/HC, HCT and clusters at national and governorate level. In relation to Objective 2.3 (a more predictable and scalable suite of OCHA services and tools to support leaders and partners in response preparedness, humanitarian response, and transition) OCHA will ensure that the humanitarian preparedness and response in Yemen is underpinned by integrated analysis and information management.
OCHA will also support the RC/HC efforts in ensuring that early warning mechanisms are in place and contingency plans are reviewed as appropriate. In relation to Objective 2.4 (a more systematic coordination of the common humanitarian programme cycle) OCHA, on behalf of the RC/HC, will take a leading role in facilitating the multi-sectoral needs assessment missions to identify priority needs and propose appropriate responses. OCHA will facilitate an effective mobilization and allocation of resources based on needs, gaps and opportunities. And OCHA will ensure enhanced engagement and partnership with counterparts in support of humanitarian action (government, INGOs, NGOs and donors).