This week, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) coordinated the first United Nations mission to the Lahj Governorate in Yemen since the outbreak of the conflict in March 2015. During the visit, discussions were held with government officials in order to better respond to the needs of the populations displaced by the conflict, their host communities and the thousands of irregular migrants entering Yemen from the Horn of Africa.
Lahj is located in south-western Yemen and has experienced intense fighting. The Governorate has a population of around 960,000 of which nearly 10 per cent has been displaced by the conflict. The presence of Al Qaeda in the Arab Peninsula (AQAP) and ISIL has led to a large majority of public facilities, such as schools and hospitals, being destroyed. IOM visit highlighted the severe level of destruction in the city, especially to infrastructure.
IOM is set to increase its humanitarian and development support to the Lahj Governorate population – internally displaced persons, migrants and host communities – in order to respond to their immediate humanitarian needs, as well as start their rehabilitation and the reconstruction of infrastructure through development and job-generating activities.
“This is an historic moment,” said Nasser Al-Khoubeigi, Governor of Lahj, as he welcomed Laurent de Boeck, IOM Yemen Chief of Mission, as the first UN Representative to enter the city of Lahj in 22 months. De Boeck was accompanied by Taher Ibrahim, Head of the Aden Sub-Office of UN OCHA.
In 2016, IOM rehabilitated 21 water points serving 125,963 beneficiaries in nine different districts in the Governorate. More than 15,000 persons benefited from shelter, hygiene and non-food item (NFIs) kit in four districts (Al Madaribah Wa Al Arah, Al Qabbaytah, Tuban and Tur Al Bahah), where the largest concentration of displaced population in the Governorate were registered. IOM also intensified its actions, during 2016, to ensure higher protection and direct assistance to more than 4,300 newly arrived migrants from the Horn of Africa. To support victims of trafficking and smuggling, IOM provided primary health-care assistance throughout the year to 2,415 migrants, core relief items to 3,342 persons and food to another 1,377.
Due to the return of close to 70,000 people to their places of origin within the Governorate, IOM intends to launch a new approach comprising programmes of stabilization and reconstruction in ‘the Pockets of Stability’. IOM’s new approach looks at rebuilding the lives of the returnees through community activities that create job opportunities for young people, generate incomes and stabilize the population.
“Lahj is one of our targets for this new approach that IOM is launching in the country, in order to support the return of the displaced population”, said de Boeck. “They have nothing when they return back home; our focus should be on shelter, employment and reconstruction of facilities, which will allow children to go back to school and to benefit from appropriate health services. This is part of the IOM Migration Crisis Strategy Framework for Yemen, which includes transition actions to resume normal life in Lahj,” he continued.
To further develop its 2017 strategy, IOM Aden held a workshop earlier this week (01/02) with more than 30 partners from Lahj and other Governorates.
For further information, please contact Esam Al-Makhzomi, Protection Assistant, IOM Aden, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org; Tel: + 967 737 789 120 or Saba Malme at IOM Yemen, Tel: + 967 736 800 329, Email: email@example.com
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