The conflict in Yemen, now in its sixth year, has not seen any tangible movements towards lasting peace. There are now more active frontlines across the country than ever before, and heavy clashes continue to lead to mass displacement and civilian casualties. IOM Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM) teams estimate that some 153,000 people have been displaced by the conflict, natural disaster and the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020; the majority of these — over 90,000 — have fled areas affected by clashes in and around Marib and Al Jawf. There were several mass casualty airstrikes in Hajjah and Al Jawf governorates, with civilian casualties from airstrikes doubling from the second to the third quarter in 2020, up to 94 from 47. The total civilian casualties between July and September 2020 is nearly 530 people. The situation is widening gaps across humanitarian sectors in Marib, where IOM site assessments indicate that some 200,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) living in overcrowded formal and informal sites are in need of sustained humanitarian support, and with over 500,000 people also estimated to be displaced within host communities.
The humanitarian and socioeconomic consequences of the conflict continue to be exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. An Integrated Phase Classification (IPC) analysis carried out for southern governorates warns of an impending food security crisis, with 40 per cent of the population projected to be affected by a drastic reduction in income and purchasing power (up from 25 per cent at the start of 2020). The COVID-19 pandemic has also contributed to a currency crisis — the Yemeni rial has lost 31 per cent of its value since the beginning of the year in parts of the country. Yemen’s already weakened health system has been hit the hardest, and several public hospitals have been forced to close as a result of equipment, medicine and fuel shortages. With limited testing and protective equipment, public health facilities are ill-equipped to respond to the outbreak.
The true human impact of the virus in Yemen is difficult to determine, due to the limited surveillance, testing and reporting, and the outbreak has been characterized by stigma and lack of trust in health facilities causing people to delay seeking treatment and testing.
As the country grapples with these challenges, conditions for stranded migrants have progressively deteriorated. During this quarter, migrant arrivals into Yemen remained low compared to 2019 mainly as a result of COVID-19 movement restrictions and border closures. Authorities in Yemen continue to adopt anti-migrant policies that have meant a significant spike in detentions and forced transfers out of northern governorates to the south. Between July and September 2020, approximately 1,500 migrant arrivals were recorded compared to nearly 23,400 during the same period in 2019. As more and more migrants become stranded in governorates like Aden and Marib, estimated at 5,000 and 4,000 respectively, with limited options to return home or continue journeys to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), some migrants are making the perilous journey through smuggler networks by sea to Djibouti, with the hope of making it home to Ethiopia. On 03 October, eight migrants died at sea making this journey, with another 12 migrants dying on 15 October. IOM’s priority has been to provide relief assistance to stranded migrants, and the Organization is making progress at the regional level for the resumption of its Voluntary Humanitarian Return programme that will facilitate the safe, dignified and voluntary return of migrants to their countries of origin.
- International Organization for Migration
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