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Yemen: ID project begins

Briefing notes

Yemen: ID project begins

17 May 2002

UNHCR and the government of Yemen have begun an initiative to grant identification cards to all refugees. This project's testing and trial period began this week in Sana'a, where already more than 300 refugees have received their ID cards. The project will begin in earnest in the capital region from June 8.

Yemen has the Arabian Peninsula's largest non-Palestinian refugee population. UNHCR estimates that there are more than 69,000 refugees in Yemen, though the government puts the figure at more than 165,000 people. The vast majority, some 64,000, are Somalis. But 11 other nationalities are also present among the refugee population. The Sana'a government estimates that up to 10,000 Somalis arrive every year. Most of the Somalis live in urban areas, where they are self-supporting. UNHCR cares for about 10,000 Somalis in the Al Kharaz refugee camp near Aden and also operates a reception centre for new arrivals at Mayfa'a.

Yemen grants prima facie refugee status to all Somali refugees, and we're encouraging all refugees in the country to approach the government/UNHCR offices that are providing the cards. The ID card programme will be expanded throughout the entire country in phases, and we expect the number of applicants to rapidly increase. The initiative should run through the end of the year and should ensure better protection for the country's refugee population.