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Yemen: Ongoing displacement amid humanitarian crisis
In Kisher District in Yemen’s northern governorate of Hajjah, hundreds of people have been displaced by clashes between members of the Al Houthi and Salafist movements. Hajjah is also the location of tens of thousands of IDPs who have been displaced since as far back as 2004 by the Sa’ada conflict between government and Al Houthi forces.
The Sa’ada conflict has caused the displacement of over 300,000 IDPs in total. In April 2011, a fragile ceasefire was broken as Al Houthis assumed control over all of the northern governorate of Sa’ada. Intermittent conflict has since then continued between Al Houthis and Salafists in Sa’ada, Hajjah, and the other northern governorates of Amran and Al Jawf
According to the Yemeni government’s Executive Unit for IDPs, an estimated 144,000 people have also been displaced in southern and central Yemen since May 2011, over 80,000 of them from Abyan governorate alone. In mid-January, an estimated 2,500 IDPs returned to their homes in Zanjubar in Abyan to check on their property and gauge the possibilities of return, before going back to nearby Aden, where they had sought refuge following clashes between government forces and Islamic militants.
The humanitarian needs of IDPs and others continue to be very significant. In late January UNICEF highlighted the plight of children affected by the conflict, poverty, drought and political unrest in the country. In some areas acute malnutrition affects 30 per cent of children, a rate near that in south Somalia and double the internationally-recognised emergency threshold.
See also: IDMC Yemen country page
Philippines: House of Representatives approves internal displacement bill
The House of Representatives, the lower legislative house of the Philippines, has approved a bill seeking to protect the rights of internally displaced people in the country. The proposed Rights of Internally Displaced Persons Act of 2012 defines the state policy with regards to the provision of assistance and protection to people displaced by “armed conflict, generalised violence, violations of human rights, aggressive implementation of development projects and other man-made disasters” during all phases of displacement. As such the bill does not cover internal displacement caused by natural disasters.
Among the salient features of the bill are the criminalisation of arbitrary displacement, the provision of monetary compensation for lost or damaged property or for the death of family members, and the designation of the Philippines Commission on Human Rights (CHR) as the government’s focal point for IDPs. The bill has now been filed at the Senate, for review by the Senate Justice and Human Rights Committee. Once both the House and the Senate agree on a common bill, it can be forwarded to the President who has then the power to sign it into law. However, earlier legislative attempts to strengthen IDP protection have failed to progress after being passed by the lower house.
See also: IDMC Philippines country page