Six months into the Yemen crisis, DRC helps over 243,000 persons

An estimated 21.1 million people remain in need of immediate humanitarian assistance in Yemen, six months after the conflict began in mid-March 2015.

Photo: Two boys have received food assistance in Hanad near the town of Ahwar in Southern Yemen. © DRC

The Danish Refugee Council (DRC), which has remained operational since the onset of the current crisis, has continued to provide emergency life assistance to the affected populations in various areas in Yemen.

This year, DRC interventions target approximately 243,000 persons.

"Despite the ongoing challenges of access to populations affected by the conflict, DRC has continued to provide essential services to Yemeni's, refugees and migrants caught up in the conflict by providing food assistance, core relief items, protection services and continued efforts in water, sanitation and hygiene services (WASH)," says Lisa Piper, DRC Yemen Country Director.

The ongoing conflict has exacerbated the food security situation in most areas in Yemen owing to the vast damage on critical port and market infrastructure as well as the worsening fuel shortage that has seen prices of basic commodities double.

However, DRC has continued to work closely with the World Food Programme (WFP) in distribution of food assistance to the affected population in Sa'ada governorate.

The programme targets over 14,000 households throughout the governorate. The current crisis continues to expose the local population to increased protection risks with the number of those internally displaced reaching 1.9 million and over 5,000 being killed - half of them civilians.

DRC has continued to extend our protection assistance to those in need in various governorates within Yemen. This has largely entailed carrying out child protection activities (monitoring violations against children and recruitment of children into the armed conflict) as well as protection monitoring and outreach activities of migrants who are continuing to arrive on the shores of Yemen.

"Since the onset of the conflict, refugees and migrants have continued to arrive on the Yemeni shores, following hazardous journeys from the Horn of Africa countries such as Ethiopia, Eritrea and Somalia. DRC's engagement with such persons through our mixed migration monitoring has revealed that the migrants face harrowing experiences and protection risks at the hands of traffickers some of them being abducted and locked up while en route to Yemen and upon arrival at the shores of Yemen," adds Lisa Piper.

DRC in partnership with IOM has continued to conduct protection monitoring and outreach patrolling activities in Mayfa'a and Kharaz by screening new migrants and referring those in need of protection as refugees to UNHCR or assisted voluntary return to IOM.

DRC has been providing the migrants with protection kits and counselling at Migrant Reception Centres in Mayfaa (Shabwa governorate) and Kharaz (Lahj governorate) as they await further assistance from UNHCR and IOM. DRC has also been responding to affected populations through interventions in the water and sanitation sector (WASH).

The interventions have largely been aimed at raising awareness among the affected populations on essential hygiene practices such as handwashing with soap, sterilization of drinking water, protection of community water sources and proper sanitation.

DRC has carried out these interventions in Hajjah and Hodeida governorates, which aim to reach over 41,000 persons.

"Regardless of these successes, DRC remains concerned about the lack of safe and unimpeded humanitarian access into and throughout Yemen. The lack of safe access poses many challenges to the delivery of life-saving humanitarian services that the affected population desperately requires. DRC continues to urge all parties to the conflict to observe their duty to protect civilians and to facilitate unimpeded access so that humanitarian actors can be able to deliver assistance to the populations in critical need of assistance," adds Lisa Piper.

A critical aspect of the emergency responses remains the need for additional funding towards the Yemen Humanitarian Response plan which at the moment is 37 per cent funded against the $1.6 billion required. DRC continues to fundraise through various donors in order to expand our interventions to the populations affected by the conflict.

DRC has recently re-opened of its Aden office and expanded its services in Hodeidah in order to increase its outreach and services in life-saving programmes including WASH, Protection and Food Security and Livelihoods and Mixed Migration. The Aden office is set to support programmes in the south of Yemen, including locations such as Kharaz and Basateen.

DRC has been operational in Yemen since 2008 supporting children, families and communities affected by conflict and displacement with protection, food assistance, WASH and livelihood initiatives.