More than two years since the Stockholm Agreement, the conflict in Yemen continues to drive displacement and worsen living conditions for millions. Fighting escalated along several fronts in June and July 2021. The consequences on civilians have been devastating and the number of civilian casualties has reached levels not seen since the signing of the Agreement.
As conflict persists, the Yemeni Riyal (YER) hit a historic low in July, trading at over YER 1,000 to USD, which triggered food prices to soar across the south, exacerbating the risk of famine and leaving many unable to meet their basic needs. At the same time, COVID-19 continues to take a toll on communities. Health partners are concerned about the rising cases and an impending third wave amidst low vaccination rates, stigma and misinformation.
In July, clashes continued across Ma’rib, Al Hodeidah and Al Bayda. Hostilities are expected to drive further displacement and exacerbate humanitarian needs. Already, this year, more than 24,500 people have been displaced in Ma’rib – 53 per cent to areas within Sirwah, and 30 per cent to Ma’rib city. Torrential rains, windstorms and flooding hit Ma’rib hard and caused significant infrastructure damage in at least 15 displacement sites.
Highlighting the scale of displacement in Yemen, IOM’s DTM reported that between January and July 2021, nearly 50,000 people have experienced displacement at least once across 13 governorates. In July alone, over 7,500 individuals were displaced, over a third of whom were displaced from Al Bayda to Lahj governorate because of the escalating clashes. Many IDPs have taken shelter in religious sites, schools, and caves in Lahj, while some moved towards Aden in search of humanitarian assistance.
IOM continues to expand its programme on the west coast to meet growing needs of more than 17,000 households residing in 141 displacement sites amid limited partners presence. In the immediate term, IOM is prioritizing a response in 19 IDP hosting sites where there are no camp coordination and camp management (CCCM) partners and where there are large gaps around water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), health and shelter and non-food items (S-NFI) which are common priority needs.
IOM estimates that 1,566 migrants entered Yemen in July, compared to 3,545 migrants in June 2021. The drop in numbers may be attributable to the extreme weather conditions (strong winds, heavy rainfall and high tides), which may have made it difficult for migrants to travel by boat. Thousands of migrants remain stranded in Yemen, many of whom are unable to access basic services and need food, shelter, health and protection assistance.
As more migrants seek to return home, IOM is working on facilitating Voluntary Humanitarian Return (VHR) flights from Aden and Sana’a. The Organization facilitated the first VHR flight from Sana’a since 2019 and transported 79 Ethiopian migrants safely to their home. Negotiations are ongoing for additional flights in the coming months. In Aden, nationality verification exercises have begun ahead of VHR flights in August.