Yemen Situation Regional Refugee and Migrant Response Plan, October-December 2015 / January-December 2016 (Preliminary estimates) | October 2015 [EN/AR]

Report
from UN High Commissioner for Refugees
Published on 05 Oct 2015

Introduction

The situation in Yemen has deteriorated dramatically since fighting and violence intensified in late March 2015. Deepening insecurity and violence have taken a heavy toll on civilian lives and triggering large-scale internal displacement and cross border population movements. Partners now estimate that 21.1 million people – 80 per cent of the population – require some form of humanitarian protection or assistance. More than 1.2 million people are internally displaced in Yemen, and alongside internal displacement, Yemenis, refugees and migrants are fleeing the country in considerable numbers. As of the end of August, more than 100,000 arrivals from Yemen have been reported in countries in the Middle East, as well as in the East and Horn of Africa, mainly in Djibouti, Ethiopia, Somalia, and Sudan.

As of 31 August, close to 70,000 people have arrived in Djibouti, Ethiopia, Somalia and Sudan fleeing the crisis in Yemen. Despite the ongoing crisis, migrants from Eritrea, Ethiopia, and Somalia are continuing to take the often perilous journey from the Horn of Africa to Yemen. The drivers of migration in the Horn of Africa include political, conflict and security, demographic, economic, environmental, and social factors. Despite some economic gains, there is widespread poverty in the region and inequitable distribution of the benefits of economic growth. Environmental concerns, specifically climate change and environmental degradation, contribute to resource-based competition and conflict. Migration is facilitated by trafficking and smuggling networks that actively promote their services to migrants, and compounded by poor governance and weak border management. The situation of mixed migration in the Horn of Africa is marked by high risks, dangers, documented abuse, and deaths at sea or on land. Large numbers of migrants are opting to move between countries in this manner, despite being aware of the risks and dangers.

In addition, prior to the crisis, there were 257,645 recognized refugees under international protection in Yemen, mostly Somalis, who also require continued humanitarian assistance. Somali refugees are currently living in precarious conditions either in Kharaz camp, the only refugee camp, or in urban areas. Somali refugees in Yemen may be forced to make the difficult decision to return to Somalia, despite the associated protection risks. Since the beginning of the crisis, 28,887 individuals (89 per cent Somalis; 10 per cent Yemenis, and 1 per cent migrants) fleeing the conflict in Yemen have arrived in Somalia. Reintegration of Somali returnees poses additional challenges as the widespread conflict and political strife have crippled essential infrastructure and more than three quarters of the population lack access to healthcare, proper sanitation and safe drinking water.

In the Gulf region, the majority of Yemenis are residing in Saudi Arabia. Oman kept its borders with Yemen closed since the beginning of the conflict. None of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries is party to the 1951 Convention and/or the 1967 Protocol relating to the Status of Refugees nor has national legislation dealing with refugees and asylum seekers. The application of migration regimes and national immigration laws applicable to third country nationals, including Yemeni, is rather strict, unpredictable and often influenced by security concerns. However, governments in the GCC countries have shown a certain level of tolerance toward the presence of Yemenis and a visitor visa for six months has been issued for more than 465,400 Yemenis to regulate their stay in the country. The visitor visas enable Yemenis to access basic health services, education and the labour market. Overstay has been tolerated in most of the GCC countries.

In response to the influx of persons fleeing from the conflict in Yemen, humanitarian actors in Somalia and Djibouti respectively launched an inter-agency appeal (Djibouti Response Plan for Yemen Crisis; Somalia Response Plan for Yemen Crisis) in March 2015, covering the period from April to September 2015, to address the protection and assistance needs of persons fleeing Yemen.

As the situation in Yemen continues to deteriorate, it is anticipated, based on recent movement during 2015-2016 into neighbouring countries such as Djibouti, Ethiopia, Stroemnadlsi at,h Saut dthane and the Gulf Countries will continue and might accelerate. In order to continue to address the needs of persons fleeing Yemen in receiving countries, and further

to the nomination by UNHCR of a Regional Refugee Coordinator for the Yemen crisis to harmonize the response in the neighbouring countries affected by the Yemen Crisis (see section below on “Coordination”), this plan brings together the respective country plans of Djibouti, Ethiopia, Somalia and Sudan in a Regional Refugee and Migrant Response Plan (RRMRP) co-led by UNHCR and IOM. The RRMRP covers the requirements to provide protection and assistance to those fleeing Yemen into Djibouti, Ethiopia, Somalia and Sudan for the remainder of 2015 (October-December 2015) and onto 20161. While the situation of Yemeni arrivals in the GCC countries has been highlighted above, this Plan does not cover the Gulf countries.