UNHCR airlifts supplies to IDPs in Yemen

News Stories, 31 December 2012

© UNHCR/A.Al-Sharif
A plane loaded with UNHCR blankets, mattresses and other emergency needs arrived in Yemen from Kenya, where the UN refugee agency stores supplies.

ADEN, Yemen, 30 Dec (UNHCR) The UN refugee agency has sent a planeload of supplies to Yemen as part of its ongoing assistance to internally displaced Yemenis who it is assisting to return home.

The wide-body MD-11 airplane carried 10,000 blankets, 14,800 plastic sheets and 10,000 sleeping mats from UNHCR stores in Kenya to Yemen's southern port city of Aden as part of a special airlift to help IDPs who have returned to Abyan Governorate over the last few month.

The airlift -thanks to special funding from the European Commission for Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection (ECHO) -- is providing timely assistance for returnees who are in desperate need of support as they rebuild their lives in their areas of origin. UNHCR plans to assist 30,000 of the most vulnerable returning families through this urgent airlift and with further assistance that will arrive by sea.

"UNHCR is supporting IDPs to exercise their right to return home," said Naveed Hussain, UNHCR Representative in Yemen. The UN refugee agency is monitoring to ensure that return is voluntary, providing IDPs with assistance to return, and is advocating for efforts from the government and international community to ensure the continued success of their return. "The challenge now is to make these returns sustainable through rehabilitation and development work."

UNHCR has been responding to the IDP crisis in the south of Yemen since it began in May 2011, providing life-saving assistance, monitoring of needs, and counselling services.

In July 2012, IDPs started to return home and rebuild their lives. Initially, returns were slow due to the widespread presence of landmines and unexploded ordinances, extensive damage to infrastructure and a desire to see evidence of improved security. Through de-mining by the Yemen government and other security improvements, more than 100,000 people have returned to their homes.

UNHCR is the lead international humanitarian agency responding to returnees' need for shelter and domestic items. To date, UNHCR has distributed non-food items to some 10,000 families and shelter kits to more than 9,000 families in Abyan. UNHCR has been present on the ground and staff members conduct field visits on a regular basis.

By Teddy Leposky in Aden

• DONATE NOW •

 

• GET INVOLVED • • STAY INFORMED •

UNHCR country pages

Internally Displaced People

The internally displaced seek safety in other parts of their country, where they need help.

Related Internet Links

UNHCR is not responsible for the content and availability of external internet sites

Somalia Airlift: UNHCR flies aid to Mogadishu for first time in 5 years.

For the first time in five years, UNHCR has been able to airlift vital humanitarian aid to the conflict-ravaged Somalia capital of Mogadishu. Tens of thousands of Somalis, fleeing drought and famine, have descended on the city in recent weeks searching for food, water, medicine and other assistance.

Three UNHCR-chartered aircraft have brought around 100 tonnes of aid to Mogadishu since August 8. The aircraft carried relief items from the agency's emergency stockpile in Dubai. The latest shipment includes high energy protein biscuits, plastic sheeting for shelter, sleeping mats, blankets, jerry cans for water and kitchen utensils.

The UN refugee agency usually delivers relief items to Mogadishu by sea and land for security reasons, but - due to the unprecedented rise in the number of uprooted civilians - UNHCR decided to airlift supplies in order to save time. There are now around half-a-million internally displaced people in Mogadishu.

Somalia Airlift: UNHCR flies aid to Mogadishu for first time in 5 years.

Gulf of Aden People-Smuggling: International Help Needed

An alarming number of people are dying trying to reach Yemen aboard smugglers' boats crossing the Gulf of Aden from Somalia. Over a three-week period in late 2005, at least 150 people perished while making the journey. These deaths are frequently the result of overcrowded boats capsizing or breaking down and going adrift without food or water. Those who survive the voyage to Yemen often give brutal accounts of smugglers beating passengers or forcing them overboard while still far off shore – in some instances with their hands and feet bound.

In response, UNHCR has issued an urgent appeal for action to stem the flow of desperate Ethiopian and Somali refugees and migrants falling prey to ruthless smugglers in a bid to reach Yemen and beyond. The refugee agency has also been working with the authorities in Puntland, in north-eastern Somalia, on ways to inform people about the dangers of using smugglers to cross the Gulf of Aden. This includes production of videos and radio programmes to raise awareness among Somalis and Ethiopians of the risks involved in such crossings.

Gulf of Aden People-Smuggling: International Help Needed

2011 Yemen: Risking All for a Better Future

Plagued by violence, drought and poverty, thousands of people in the Horn of Africa leave their homes out of desperation every year. Seeking safety or a better life, these civilians - mainly Somalis and Ethiopians - make the dangerous journey through Somalia to the northern port of Bossaso.

Once there, they pay up to US$150 to make the perilous trip across the Gulf of Aden on smugglers' boats. They often wait for weeks in Bossaso's safe houses or temporary homes until a sudden call prompts their departure under the veil of night, crammed into small rickety boats.

Out at sea, they are at the whim of smugglers. Some passengers get beaten, stabbed, killed and thrown overboard. Others drown before reaching the beaches of Yemen, which have become the burial ground for hundreds of innocent people who die en route.

The Yemen-based Society for Humanitarian Solidarity (SHS) has been helping these people since 1995. On September 13, 2011 UNHCR announced that the NGO had won this year's Nansen Refugee Award for its tireless efforts to assist people arriving from the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea.

2011 Yemen: Risking All for a Better Future

Iraq: UNHCR Airlift Into SyriaPlay video

Iraq: UNHCR Airlift Into Syria

On the December 17 2013 the UN Refugee Agency airlifted relief items from Iraq into northeast Syria's Al Hassakeh governorate to help more than 50,000 extremely vulnerable and displaced Syrians cope with the sudden arrival of winter following an agreement with both the Iraqi and Syrian authorities to open new aid routes.
Yemeni NGO wins Nansen AwardPlay video

Yemeni NGO wins Nansen Award

The Society for Humanitarian Solidarity wins the 2011 Nansen Refugee Award for helping tens of thousands of refugees and migrants who make the treacherous journey to Yemen on smugglers' boats.
Somalia: First airliftPlay video

Somalia: First airlift

UNHCR's first aid flight to Somalia in five years lands in Mogadishu with 31 metric tons of shelter materials and other relief items for displaced Somalis.