Operation: Opération: Yemen



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Key Figures

2020 year-end results
1.2 million IDPs, refugees and members of host communities received cash assistance
437,874 displaced Yemenis and 23,879 refugees were provided with core relief items
127,199 displaced Yemenis received emergency shelter kits
82,600 refugees and members of the host community were provided with medicines
33,706 displaced Yemenis and 3,441 refugees benefited from legal assistance
7,297 refugee children were enrolled in primary education
2021 planning figures
1 million IDPs  and 44,500 refugees in Yemen will receive multipurpose cash assistance
420,000 IDPs will receive emergency shelter
350,000 IDPs and 35,000 refugees will receive core relief items
124,000 IDPs and 1,100 refugees will receive transitional shelter
75,000 IDPs and 8,700 refugees will receive legal awareness, counselling and mediation sessions, and – when necessary – representation
49,000 refugees will receive health care support
30,000 IDPs and 8,000 refugees will be provided with psychosocial support through UNHCR’s community centres
9,600 refugee children will receive school kits for primary and secondary education
210 refugee students will receive support to access tertiary education

People of Concern Personnes relevant de la compétence du HCR

Increase in
2020 4,190,446
2019 3,974,100
2018 2,551,517


[["Refugees",166936],["Asylum-seekers",10695],["IDPs",4002012],["Returned IDPs",10788],["Others of concern",15]]
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2020 {"categories":[2016,2017,2018,2019,2020,2021],"budget":[124.06305842000002,113.64964779699999,198.74363653,198.64863681999998,251.75087273000003,272.11412655000004],"expenditure":[76.23390409999999,70.06427451,135.33389555000002,139.83043673,158.97209178999998,null]} {"categories":[2016,2017,2018,2019,2020,2021],"p1":[48.97075377,63.273753997,95.14566879,48.51471679,60.108568420000005,69.89760428],"p2":[null,null,null,null,null,null],"p3":[null,null,null,null,null,null],"p4":[75.09230465,50.3758938,103.59796774,150.13392003,191.64230431000001,202.21652227]} {"categories":[2016,2017,2018,2019,2020,2021],"p1":[27.28466288,28.778660010000003,33.77039735,31.84228801,47.42180527,null],"p2":[null,null,null,null,null,null],"p3":[null,null,null,null,null,null],"p4":[48.94924122,41.2856145,101.5634982,107.98814872,111.55028652,null]}
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  • 2014
  • 2015
  • 2016
  • 2017
  • 2018
  • 2019
  • 2020
  • 2021

Operational context

In 2020, Yemen was the world’s worst humanitarian crisis for a fourth consecutive year. At the end of 2020, around 21 million Yemenis (66% of the population) were in dire need of humanitarian assistance, including 4 million IDPs. The country hosted around 177,600 refugees and asylum-seekers, mainly from Somalia.

Some 16 new front lines emerged during the year and active hostilities killed or wounded more than 2,000 civilians, a quarter of them children. In the meantime, no significant progress was observed in the peace process.

The threat of famine persisted, with IDPs at four times more risk than the general population. The conflict continued to threaten the economy, which was already weakened by a fuel embargo and restricted movement of goods. The onset of COVID-19 placed additional burdens on strained health care services and heightening vulnerabilities among IDPs, refugees and host communities. Heavy flooding caused widespread damage and displacement in parts of the country, fueling the spread of diseases such as cholera, dengue, malaria and diphtheria. Some 300,000 people lost their homes and belongings, many of them were IDPs who had fled conflict areas.

COVID-19 brought new protection risks and socioeconomic challenges to already vulnerable refugees and asylum-seekers, compounding their dependency on UNHCR’s assistance and interventions. With few resettlement places and travel restrictions interrupting voluntary returns to Somalia, prospects for durable solutions remained low.

Population trends

One in eight Yemenis are displaced. Some 172,000 individuals were newly displaced during 2020, largely within Marib governorate which—along with Hajjah, Hudaydah and Taizz governorates—now hosts 55% of the IDP population. The security situation made IDP returns largely impossible, with fewer than 11,000 people returning to their area of origin during the year.

A population review of refugees by UNHCR and reduced arrivals due to COVID-19 resulted in the overall number of refugees in Yemen to be at 167,000. Around 91% of refugees were Somalis, while 81% of the 10,600 asylum-seekers were Ethiopians. Women represented 41% of the registered refugee population, while children and older persons represented 19% and 5%, respectively. Most resided in Aden, followed by Amanat Al-Asimah and Hadramaut governorates.

Key achievements

  • UNHCR devised its first IDP protection strategy and reviewed its cash assistance to enhance the identification of beneficiary eligibility criteria, as well as anti-fraud measures. The Operation implemented the largest cash assistance programme targeting IDPs in Yemen, assisting over 1.2 million displaced Yemenis through a formula combining both socio-economic vulnerabilities and protection profiles.
  • UNHCR maintained 13 community centres nationwide to carry out targeted protection interventions for children and women at risk, persons with disabilities, older persons, and other persons with specific needs, through awareness-raising sessions and individual legal counselling, psychosocial first aid, and referral of cases to specialized services.
  • UNHCR and partners strengthened protection monitoring and vulnerability assessments with new tools to improve analysis, inform evidence-based programming and advocacy, strengthen identification and referrals, and determine eligibility for cash and other assistance. As a result, the Operation engaged in more proactive public advocacy on the impact of the conflict on civilians, including through the Humanitarian Coordinator.
  • UNHCR continued to implement quick impact projects, particularly in IDP sites, to encourage peaceful co-existence and improve living conditions and services for IDPs and host communities. Projects included rehabilitation of infrastructure including schools, healthcare facilities and shelter units.
  • Registration and documentation was maintained for refugees, in coordination with relevant authorities in the south, to ensure access to health and education services countrywide and limited income generation activities for women and youth. 

Unmet needs

  • COVID-19 obliged UNHCR and its partner to interrupt or adapt activities, delaying assistance and services. Most activities resumed by mid-year but durable solutions for refugees were particularly impacted as the Assisted Spontaneous Return programme remained suspended.
  • There remained little funding to meet the needs of displaced populations. By year end, the Operation was only 67% funded, with late delivery and strict earmarking (mainly on cash), necessitating several prioritization exercises. Staffing levels were also lower than planned.
  • The 13 UNHCR-supported community centres could not keep up with the growing needs of the rising IDP population, particularly in remote areas.

Use of flexible funding (unearmarked or softly earmarked funding)

  • Flexible funding enabled a wide range of protection activities, including prevention and response to gender-based violence, child protection, and consolidation of protection data through vulnerability assessments that were also used for targeting through cash assistance.
  • Much of UNHCR’s refugee response was funded by flexible funding, as in the Yemen context, interventions benefitting internally displaced persons often receive greater donor attention than those targeting refugees and asylum-seekers.

Working environment

Yemen remains the worst humanitarian crisis worldwide, with more than 80% of the population requiring some form of assistance, 20 million facing food insecurity and 14 million requiring urgent humanitarian intervention. An estimated 4 million people in Yemen will be internally displaced by the end of 2019 and another 1.2 million IDPs will have returned to their areas of origin across the country. Asylum-seekers from Ethiopia and Somalia make up the majority of the 276,000 refugees and asylum-seekers hosted by Yemen, most of whom continue to live in precarious situations.
The operational environment is expected to remain challenging as Yemen continues to suffer from a ravaged economy and breakdown of public institutions and services, exacerbated by security concerns and political instability. As frontlines emerge across multiple governorates, repeated and prolonged conflict-related displacement persists alongside violations of international humanitarian law and human rights.
UNHCR will seek to widen the protection space by providing services, referrals and assistance to mitigate and address protection risks. Such assistance includes delivering non-food items and emergency shelter kits to IDPs, IDP returnees and host community members. In addition, to reinforce community-based protection mechanisms, eight additional community day centres will ensure more displaced people can access legal assistance, psychosocial support and referrals to basic services. Meanwhile, existing community-based protection networks will be stronger, and a greater number of quick-impact projects will be implemented to foster social cohesion and resilience. The Assisted Spontaneous Return programme will continue to counsel and advise asylum-seekers on returns to Somalia, helping them to return in safety and dignity. A separate voluntary repatriation programme will be implemented in 2020 for Ethiopians wishing to return home.
The Operation will continue to engage with and invest in building the capacities of counterparts and local humanitarian partners. Advocacy with the authorities will continue to improve the verification of populations of concern and increase people of concern’s access to essential services. Meanwhile, UNHCR will continue to lead the Protection Cluster and the newly-formed Camp Coordination and Camp Management Cluster, as well as co-lead the Mixed Migration Working Group in partnership with IOM. By strengthening its collaboration with UN partners such as UNICEF, UNHCR will reinforce common strategies, on child protection, education, and birth registrations; UNFPA on SGBV protection; ILO on community empowerment initiatives; IOM as a strategic partner for the Ethiopian returns programme; and FAO for the implementation of urban farming strategies for IDPs and refugees, among others.

Key priorities

In 2020, UNHCR will:
  • Promote and advocate a sustained protection space for refugees.
  • Consolidate partnerships, including with other humanitarian partners, which will help to increase referral pathways and ensure policy coherence amongst Protection Cluster partners.
  • Harmonize UNHCR and Clusters’ strategy into a multi-cluster/ area-based approach for higher coverage and efficiency in the provision of services.
  • Expand and enhance the CCCM strategy for the provision of protection services for highly vulnerable IDPs and access to basic needs such as shelter, WASH, health and education.
  • Enhance support in areas anticipated to be designated as safe areas of return for IDPs, while carrying out protection monitoring and assessment to identify protection risks for returnee populations. 
  • Promote community-based protection models by establishing additional community centres that offer a range of services, including legal assistance and psychosocial support.
  • Reinforce specialized services for people living with specific needs, to address their protection needs and avoid reliance on negative coping mechanisms.
  • Strengthen information management systems that support data collection to achieve positive protection outcomes.
Latest contributions
  • 15-OCT-2021

    private donors

  • Germany
  • 14-OCT-2021
  • Qatar

    private donors

  • 12-OCT-2021

    private donors

  • Ireland
  • Italy

    private donors

  • 09-OCT-2021

    private donors

  • 08-OCT-2021
  • Japan

    private donors

  • 06-OCT-2021
    United States of America

    private donors

  • 05-OCT-2021

    private donors

  • Germany
  • 04-OCT-2021

    private donors

  • 01-OCT-2021

    private donors

  • Germany
  • 30-SEP-2021

    private donors

  • Switzerland

    private donors

  • Brazil

    private donors

  • Philippines

    private donors