Almost 100,000 flee Yemen in four months as receiving countries struggle to cope in face of funding crisis
This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Adrian Edwards – to whom quoted text may be attributed – at the press briefing, on 4 August 2015, at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.
Almost 100,000 people have fled Yemen since conflict erupted there in late March but UNHCR's regional response to this outflow is just one fifth funded. In Somalia, where over 28,000 people have arrived, just five percent of the required funding has been received. While many of these people have not sought help as refugees, around 54,000 have registered with UNHCR and government authorities for assistance of various kinds. With funding also low for operations inside Yemen, UNHCR is concerned that delivery of assistance there, as well as to refugees fleeing the country, will be at risk without additional funding soon.
With the arrival in Bossaso, Puntland on 30 July of a boat carrying over 2,500 individuals (2,197 Somalis, 337 Yemenis and 9 others), total arrivals from Yemen to Somalia in July was almost 10,000 people (9,864). This is the highest monthly arrival figure to date; the previous high was in May, when 8,683 arrivals were recorded. As of 30 July, over 28,000 individuals (25,429 Somalis, 2,726 Yemenis, and 205 other third country nationals) have arrived in Somalia since March 26th.
The majority have been arriving in Bossaso (65 percent) and Berbera, Somaliland (34%). UNHCR and partners provide assistance to returnees to Somalia, including onward transportation to areas of origin or return. Almost 7,000 Somalis have returned to South Central regions (5,000 in Mogadishu), some joining settlements for internally displaced people there. More heIp is needed to ensure basic services and livelihoods and strengthen registration and verification and reception capacity at the main ports, particularly as outflows of Somali nationals are expected to continue. The Somalia Response Plan for the Yemen Crisis launched in June remains seriously underfunded. UNHCR and partners have received only 5 per cent of the US$ 64 million needed.
In Djibouti, 21,726 people had arrived from Yemen as of the end of July. Of these 9,953 (46%) are Yemeni nationals, 9,946 (46%) are transiting third country nationals and 1,827 (8%) are Djiboutian returnees. UNHCR and the Government refugee agency ONARS have registered 2,397 refugees (2,271 Yemenis). There are 1,767 refugees (1,718 Yemenis) registered in Markazi refugee camp, Obock. The Djibouti Response plan for UNHCR and partners is funded at just 7% of the required US$ 26 million.
In Ethiopia 3,210 people have arrived from Yemen since March including 2,500 Somalis and 706 Yemenis. Somalis already registered as refugees in Yemen, after crossing the borders of Djibouti and Somaliland, are arriving in the eastern and northern regions of Ethiopia and are being assisted through existing projects in refugee camps there. An additional US$500,000 is needed for registration and transportation and distribution of emergency assistance to new arrivals in Jijiga in eastern Ethiopia.
Some Yemeni refugees arriving in Ethiopia are being helped through a UNHCR urban refugee programme in Addis Ababa but arrivals have already exceeded the number predicted for the whole of 2015. As a result, UNHCR's main partner there is unable to assist further urban refugees. UNHCR Ethiopia urgently requires an additional US$570,000 to respond to this rapid increase in urban refugees.
Elsewhere some 5,000 arrivals comprised of mixed nationalities have been recorded in Oman since the conflict started while some 30,000 Yemenis and 9,880 third country national arrivals have been recorded in Saudi Arabia. Of these, 4,204 remain in Saudi Arabia while the remainder have transited to other countries. With a further 271 arrivals in Sudan, this makes a total of 98,176 arrivals in receiving countries in just over four months across the region.
Regionally, the UNHCR emergency response is just one fifth funded (20 percent or US$ 26.4 million), leaving a funding gap of US$ 107.7 million.
The UNHCR emergency response inside Yemen is also seriously underfunded at just 23 percent of the required US$ 105.6 million. Some 1.2 million internally displaced people and approximately 250,000 refugees continue to need assistance in extremely challenging conditions with severely restricted access. UNHCR reiterates that any returns to Yemen from receiving countries must be voluntary and based on a free and informed choice.
For more information on this topic, please contact:
- Teddy Leposky in Yemen, +967 71 2225121
- Carlotta Wolf in Somalia, +254 734 628 053 / +252 617 340 259
- Alexandra Strand Holm in Somalia, +254 733 12 11 47
- Rika Hakozaki in Ethiopia, +251 93 001 3866
- Amira Abd El-Khalek in Djibouti, +253 77 22 61 36
- Andreas Needham in Geneva, +41 (0) 79 217 3140