In 2021, some 50 per cent of people in need, or 10.1 million people, were estimated to be living in areas that are 'hard-to-reach' (HtR). This was predominantly due to impediments of a bureaucratic nature, but other constraints that affect access and obstruct aid agencies' ability to deliver assistance, are conflict-induced security risks and logistical impediments.
Over the year, humanitarian partners reported 2,928 access incidents in 156 districts and 20 governorates across Yemen, affecting 10.9 million people. Over 90 percent of access incidents reported in 2021 pertained to bureaucratic constraints affecting movement within the country imposed by the parties to the conflict. These include travel permit denials or delays and refusals or delays in approving project sub-agreements.
Movement restrictions were the predominant type of access incident reported in 2021. These restrictions have been steadily increasing since 2018, hitting the highest point in late 2020. They, however, decreased by 43.5 percent – 1,114 in 2021, compared with 1,971 in 2020. About 95 percent of these incidents were recorded in Ansarullah controlled areas. They mainly pertained to denials of or delays in granting travel clearances for the delivery of assistance or the conduct of needs assessments, monitoring activities and humanitarian coordination.
Partners across Yemen reported that humanitarian movements were blocked at roadside checkpoints. In Ansarullah-controlled areas, ad-hoc requirements were imposed on humanitarian missions at checkpoints, manifested most predominately in the requirement for a Mahram (a close male relative) to accompany female Yemeni aid workers when traveling on field missions, leading to the cancellation of field missions and aid deliveries. Ultimately, many humanitarian partners refrained from submitting travel requests for national female aid workers to avoid rejections and delays; it is also known that there is some reporting fatigue as this issue has become prolonged. An arrangement allowing for the joint travel of two or more Yemeni female aid workers was short-lived, especially in Sa’adah and Hajjah governorates.
In the Internationally Recognized Government (IRG)-controlled areas, movement challenges were mainly incident-based and reported along key access routes outside Aden. These ranged from unpredictable and lengthy documentation inspections to arbitrary fees demanded for passage. A requirement for humanitarian notification paperwork issued by the Saud-led Coalition continued to be imposed at the Dhubab checkpoint in Ta'iz Governorate for movements heading north along the Red Sea coast, despite the voluntary nature of the Humanitarian Notification System.
Armed conflict severely constrained access to affected populations. In 2021, active frontlines affected 51 districts at the highest point in mid-June, decreasing gradually to 45 districts by the end of the year – largely due to the withdrawal of IRG-aligned forces from several coastal districts in Al Hodeidah Governorate. Sincemid-January 2020, hostilities have escalated in Ma'rib and bordering areas in Sana'a and Al Jawf governorates, extending in 2021 to reach Shabwah Governorate, impacting Bayhan, Ayn and Osaylan districts. The conduct of hostilities and repeated changes in control affected humanitarian operations, leading to the temporary suspension of Health and WASH activities in Ma'rib and Shabwah governorates. In another incident, the Yemen Humanitarian Fund (YHF)-supported Al Jorzi health facility in Maqbanah District of Ta'iz Governorate was temporarily shut down due to hostilities. On the other hand, changes in areas of control in Al Hodeidah Governorate expanded humanitarian access in Ad Durayhimi and At Tuhayta districts. However, these same changes led to increased hostilities in Hays District, causing the closure of a major commercial traffic route between Aden and northern governorates, which resulted in longer driving hours and increased costs. Hostilities also intermittently escalated along long-established frontlines, notably in Ad Dali', Al Bayda, Sa'dah and Ta'iz governorates – with Aden, Abyan and Ta'iz seeing recurring tensions and clashes. In these areas, the delivery of timely and regular assistance to vulnerable populations faced challenges.
Interference in the implementation of humanitarian activities by the authorities in Yemen was frequently reported in 2021. A total of 890 interference incidents were reported, most of them related to delays in the approval of project sub-agreements. Some progress in expediting approvals was made in 2021. Still, humanitarian partners continue to engage both the IRG and AA authorities to establish accountable and principled procedures for timely approvals of project sub-agreements. In Ansarullah controlled areas, partners reported majority of incidences for interference affected procurement, recruitment and project design, which delayed or caused the temporary suspension of some humanitarian activities.
- UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
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