UNHCR airlifts supplies to IDPs in Yemen
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