Yemen: Protection Cluster Update (March 2018)
The conflict in Yemen has undergone major shifts, following December clashes in Sana’a city and fighting along the western coast which reached al-Hudaydah for the first time, in addition to renewed hostilities along other frontline locations such as Taizz and al-Jawf. In the process, Yemen has witnessed its worst period of civilian casualties since 2016, along with a new wave of displacement, including from North to South Yemen. In this context, ensuring protection of civilians remains paramount, as does addressing the growing protection needs for the conflict-affected and displaced population of Yemen.
Protection of Civilians
The recent intensification of conflict has had a massive impact on the conflict-affected civilian population. Civilian casualties documented and verified by OHCHR in December 2017 were three times higher than the monthly average for the year. Governorates most affected by casualties in 2017 include Taizz (26%) where there has been intense, ongoing conflict, Al-Hudaydah (18%) where military offensives have recently reached as well as Sa’ada (11%). Based on data from the recently launched Civilian Impact Monitoring Project of the Protection Cluster (see ‘In Focus’ section below), 35% of civilian casualties monitored had occurred when people were in their own homes or farms, 17% while at the market or other civilian gatherings, and 12% while they were driving, compared to only 5% who were directly exposed to armed conflict. Likewise, 74% of incidents resulting in civilian impact were caused by airstrikes, compared to 16% due to shelling, 4% armed clashes, 3% small arms fire and 2% unexploded ordinances.
The upsurge in fighting in Yemen has resulted in a new wave of displacement, mainly originating along the western coast. According to UNHCR, IOM and other sources, more than 100,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) have been displaced since 1 December 2017, almost half being displaced from North to South. As of 22 February 2018, more than 8,000 IDP households had arrived in Southern governorates, some 55% of whom were from Al-Hudaydah, 15% from Shabwah and 15% from Taizz. Among these recently displaced to the South, some 46% were displaced in Abyan, in addition to 16% displaced within Shabwah and 15% in Lahj.