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Displaced in Yemen

A Journey of 462 kilometers in search of safety

Almost six years of conflict have left 80 percent of Yemen’s population, over 24 million people, dependent on humanitarian assistance and protection. Funding shortages, access challenges, and travel restrictions due to COVID-19 have put aid operations at risk. The country faces a growing threat of widespread famine.

Follow Musa and his family as they travel from Al Hudaydah to Aden, in search of safety.

Fighting in Al Hudaydah City

In November 2017, fighting reached the neighbourhood in the Al Hali District where Musa lived with his wife, Fariha, and their three children. Several residents were killed and others were severely injured by stray bullets and indiscriminate shelling. Soon, the area became deserted. Musa and his family decided to leave too.

They fled using a neighbour’s donkey cart, leaving most of their belongings behind, and went to stay with relatives in a nearby neighbourhood. Three days later, as shelling drew closer, the family left Al Hudaydah for Bayt Al Faqih where Musa’s father once lived.

Bayt Al Faqih

In Bayt Al Faqih, the family knew no one and slept outside next to a mosque for three days. They lived on water and bread donated by a local bakery.

With fighting again nearby, Musa and Fariha decided to head for Aden, but armed men at a checkpoint refused to let them pass. Since they could not follow the main coastal road to Aden, they decided to go through the mountains to Ta’izz City. Musa borrowed 8,000 Yemeni rials (around US$20) to pay a bus driver to take them, driving through rugged terrain to avoid detection.

Ta'izz City

While in Ta’izz City, Musa learned from former neighbours that his house in Al Hudaydah had been looted and all the family’s belongings stolen. He had lost everything except his family in less than two weeks.

A few days later, people advised Musa to go to a displacement site at a school in Dar Sad in Aden Governorate where they could get help from aid agencies. Other displaced people who had managed to pool enough money to pay a bus driver to take them to Aden, agreed to let the family travel with them on the 130 kilometer ride.

Arrival in Dar Sad, Aden

When the family finally reached the school in Dar Sad where the displacement site was located, they found that all classrooms were occupied. They had no choice but to initially sleep in the schoolyard.

Aid agencies soon provided a tent, food rations, water and cash assistance. Musa occasionally earns money working as a labourer but the family depends on humanitarian assistance. With the conflict unresolved, they have had to remain living in the camp for the past three years.

The world’s worst humanitarian crisis

The scale of need in Yemen is staggering. The humanitarian situation has deteriorated further in 2020, driven by escalating conflict, an economic crisis and currency collapse, and exacerbated by torrential rains and flooding, COVID-19 and a fuel crisis. The operating environment remains restricted while the humanitarian response faces a massive funding shortfall. The most urgent issue in Yemen today is to prevent famine.

Hear from Ali, a resident of Aden, on his concerns due to increases in food prices, the spread of the coronavirus and lack of access to healthcare and other basic services.

Credit: International Committee of the Red Cross

Displacement

More than 3.6 million civilians have been displaced as a result of the conflict, including at least 158,000 people in 2020. Some of the highest levels of vulnerability are concentrated in displacement sites where very few services are available.

More than 1 in every 10 Yemenis are displaced.

Food

Many Yemenis don’t know when they will eat next. There are alarming levels of food insecurity and acute malnutrition in the south. In some parts of the country, one child in four is acutely malnourished. Widespread famine is looming.

Nearly two-thirds of people in Yemen have almost nothing to eat.

Commodity Prices

With most goods imported, Yemenis are being squeezed out of markets, unable to afford essential items. The Yemeni rial has depreciated to an all-time low as foreign reserves have diminished and remittances from abroad, the largest source of foreign exchange, fell by up to 70 percent as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Poverty rates have dramatically increased, with an estimated 81 percent of Yemenis now below the poverty line.

Children walk through a damaged part of downtown Craiter in Aden.Nov 2018. Photo by Giles Clarke for UN/OCHA.

Dar Sad IDP site in Aden Governorate.Nov 2020. Photo by Giles Clarke for UN/OCHA.

IDP settlement, Dar Sad, Aden.Mar 2019. Photo by Giles Clarke for UN/OCHA.

A child filling water in Dar Sad IDP site in Aden.Feb 2020. Photo by Mahmoud Fadel-YPN for UN/OCHA.

Twelve year old girl at the Dar Sad IDP site.Nov 2020. Photo by Giles Clarke for UN/OCHA.

You can help

Humanitarian programmes have made an enormous difference by helping Yemenis to meet their daily needs. However, since April 2020, critical UN programmes have been reduced or closed down due to the significant funding shortages.

Urgent action is needed to continue delivering principled aid at scale and to provide life-saving assistance and protection for the millions of people who depend on it to survive.