Ongoing COVID-19 prevention measures continue to cause economic strain, loss of livelihoods, anxiety and psychosocial issues among internally displaced persons (IDPs) and asylum-seekers. Practices such as social distancing, frequent handwashing and wearing masks are relatively unachievable in crowded accommodations that lack basic resources. A recent field visit to Amran governorate to assess the needs of IDPs reported increasing protection concerns including child labour and begging by women, particularly those whose husbands and sons are fighting on the frontlines. Early marriage is also on the rise. Displaced children are more exposed to violence and harassment by peers from the host community, and the vast majority are out of school. During the first six months of this year, some 10,000 displaced Yemenis received psychosocial support from UNHCR partners for anxiety, stress, instability, psychological trauma, and attempted suicide. Twelve per cent of all cases were children, while four per cent were referred to specialised mental health services and received targeted assistance.
The Operation is conducting a country-wide survey to assess the impact of UNHCR’s COVID-19 related messaging. A majority (89 per cent) of some 2,000 IDP and local host community indicated they were aware of COVID-19 prevention measures. Around half (45 per cent) received information from others within their community, and one-quarter (23 per cent) received information from awareness sessions by UNHCR’s outreach workers or community-based protection networks.
UNHCR is working with 14 refugee and IDP tailors across the country to produce reusable face masks to guard against infection. The provision of raw materials, training and production of samples has begun, including for production of masks for children. The aim is to produce 30,000 masks, of which 9,000 will be purchased and distributed by UNHCR for the next hygiene kit distribution, while the rest will be sold by the tailors themselves to supplement their lost income over recent months.
UNHCR through partner SHS and the World Food Programme completed the regular distribution of hygiene materials and food rations to all 8,877 families in Kharaz refugee camp, Lahj governorate, to improve their nutritional intake and foster better hygiene. The distributions were carried out in accordance with appropriate social distancing considerations. Field teams sensitized beneficiaries on COVID-19 related matters, including hygiene and prevention. Each refugee household receives a monthly food ration composed of cereal, oil, salt and sugar, as well as hygiene kits containing soap, detergent and personal hygiene items.
Awareness raising on COVID-19 is ongoing for refugee and asylumseeking families through diversified channels, including information sessions with smaller groups that incorporate COVID-19 prevention measures at community centres, individual counselling, 24-hour hotlines, social media channels and distribution of brochures. An assessment of the hotline used by refugee families in the south of Yemen showed the majority (74 per cent) requested support relating to cash and livelihoods assistance.