UN refugee agency and European Commission on unprecedented visit to Yemen
GENEVA, January 13 (UNHCR) - The UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres and the EU Commissioner for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response Kristalina Georgieva arrived today in Yemen on their first joint mission. During the three day visit (from 13 to 15 January) they will review first-hand the operations assisting internally displaced Yemeni civilians in the north of the country and humanitarian challenges posed by the continuing influx of Somali refugees crossing the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea.
During this unprecedented joint UNHCR-EU trip, commissioners Guterres and Georgieva will be travelling to the north of Yemen to highlight the plight and suffering of nearly 300,000 displaced Yemeni civilians - forced from their homes by successive conflicts since 2004. Instability and slow implementation of 2010 peace agreement is prolonging internal displacement in Yemen.
The two commissioners plan to meet with displaced Yemeni civilians as well as those who have returned home. Guterres and Georgieva will advocate with the Yemeni authorities and Al Houti representatives for safer and broader humanitarian access in all areas in the north of the country which were affected by the conflict.
The joint UNHCR-EU mission also reflects international recognition and support for Yemen's policy of granting refugee status on arrival to Somalis fleeing violence and persecution in their homeland. There are more than 170,000 registered Somali refugees in Yemen, of which some 16,000 arrived last year alone. They reach Yemen in a mixed migration flow from the Horn of Africa in which some flee persecution while the others seek economic opportunities in the Gulf states and beyond.
During their stay in Yemen, Guterres and Georgieva will meet with top-ranking government officials as well as representatives of UN agencies and partner non-governmental organisations.
This joint mission underlines the close cooperation and coordination that exists between UNHCR, as one of the leading humanitarian organizations in Yemen, and the European Commission which is one of Yemen's leading humanitarian donors - both working together to meet humanitarian needs on the ground.