The signing of the Government’s Transitional Programme for Stabilisation and Development opens a window of opportunity for the humanitarian community to contribute towards sustainable change of the dire humanitarian situation in Yemen.
Over the past months, the presence and access of the UN and NGOs has increased. There has also been a welcome increase in the activities of NGOs from Yemen’s neighbours and partnership and coordination between all humanitarian actors is being promoted.
Improved stability in many areas and the return of almost 140,000 internally displaced people in the south provides an opportunity to increase the resilience of affected populations through livelihood-support and capacity-building and to promote sustainable solutions. Funding shortages are, however, threatening to undermine this effort, with large numbers of displaced people already suffering significant cuts in food rations.
The outlook for the humanitarian situation in 2013 and beyond remains precarious. Extreme poverty, volatile food and commodity prices, an increased cost of living, unemployment and declining agricultural production will further reduce food security and access to basic services and livelihoods for millions of people.
Half of Yemeni’s population of 24 million people do not have access to clean water and sanitation, 10 million people do not have sufficient access to food, and more than 6 million people lack access to basic health care, including life-saving reproductive health services for women and girls, as maternal mortality remains high. An estimated 1 million children suffer from acute malnutrition of whom 250,000 are severely affected with risk of death unless immediate assistance is provided. Many more are at risk of life long cognitive disability, learning difficulties and reduced productivity as adults.
Some 350,000 Yemenis remain internally displaced nationwide, and more than 238,000 people mostly Somalis -have sought refuge in Yemen. In addition, more and more migrants from the Horn of Africa continue to arrive on Yemen’s unpatrolled shores in search of economic opportunities in the Gulf region. Abused by smugglers and traffickers, tens of thousands have become stranded in Yemen and exhibit acute humanitarian needs. In 2012, 107,532 migrants and refugees arrived on Yemen’s shores – twice as many as in 2010.
Protection of civilians, including measures to prevent and respond to grave violations of children’s rights and gender-based violence, is a strategic priority of the 2013 Yemen Humanitarian Response Plan. In 2012, at least 50 children were killed and 165 maimed, reflecting a 100 per cent increase in casualties resulting from mines, UXOs and IEDs over 2011. Children continue to be recruited and used by armed forces and armed groups and are at particular risk of sexual abuse, trafficking, exploitation, family separation and forced marriage. Women and girls are particularly vulnerable to exposure from gender-based violence.
The 2013 Yemen Humanitarian Response Plan targets one third of the Yemeni population through a range of emergency and early recovery activities. The funding requirements amount to US$ 716 million, a 22% increase from the 2012 Response Plan.
There can be no sustainable transition in Yemen unless the basic needs of millions of the most vulnerable people are met through the 2013 Yemen Humanitarian Response Plan. Funding towards the Humanitarian Response Plan will contribute not only to addressing human suffering but also to make the progress towards recovery irreversible.