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Yemen: Hard living conditions and a difficult security environment

18-09-2013 Operational Update

Many people in Yemen are still struggling to earn a living and support their families. Their working conditions have been particularly difficult owing to the deterioration in security throughout the country. The ICRC is working hard to keep its humanitarian activities running.

Between April and July, over 55,000 people in Abyan, Khanfar district, were given seed and fertilizer to restart farming activities so that they could feed their families. Nearly 4,000 others in Abyan governorate took part in a cash-for-work scheme for over two months.

"Projects like cash-for-work, which were supposed to be extended to other parts of the country, have been put on hold, because we cannot properly monitor those we already have," said Jado Batila, who coordinates the ICRC's economic security work in Yemen. "Sadly, thousands of Yemenis who need help are paying the price."

In Amran, the livestock of almost 19,000 farmers were vaccinated against goat plague by the ICRC working in cooperation with the Ministry of Agriculture. Many thousands of families in the governorate depend on cattle to earn a living. In Sa'ada, cash grants enabled 219 families to start income-generating activities.

"People caught up in the fighting and other violence in Yemen are contending with significant needs. We are doing our utmost to respond quickly and effectively, which we are able to do thanks to our country-wide presence," said Cedric Schweizer, who heads the ICRC delegation in Sana'a.

"However, with the deterioration in security conditions, and the challenges we face reaching people who need our help, we have been forced to adapt our activities," he added. "We could do more if we could work in greater safety."

Assisting clinics, hospitals and physical rehabilitation centres

Health-care services in some rural and conflict-prone areas are struggling to meet the needs of the civilian population. Between April and July, the ICRC maintained its support for six primary health-care facilities in Sa'ada, two in Amran, two in Abyan, and one facility in Sana'a. Of the 230,000 people who used the basic health-care services, 45,300 made curative visits, while 34,500 women and children were vaccinated. The ICRC continued to support Al Razi Hospital, where 400 patients were admitted in the surgical wards and 243 operations were performed between April and June.

The ICRC provided training in first aid for staff working in the Sa'ada, Amran and Abyan primary health-care facilities. In addition, in cooperation with Al Razi Hospital in Abyan, it held a three-day seminar on treating patients with violence-related injuries which was attended by 59 staff from Abyan and Aden governorates.

Physical rehabilitation staff in Sana'a, Mukallah, Aden and Taiz received ICRC support for on-the-job training as well as scholarships for studying abroad. In June, two students from Sa'ada returned to Yemen after completing their training in prosthetics and orthotics in India. In 2013, the ICRC is providing 10 Yemeni students with support enabling them to receive training in India. So far this year, around 19,000 people, including some 3,000 amputees, have received physical rehabilitation services in ICRC-supported centres in Yemen. In addition, specialists have provided physiotherapy treatment for more than 10,200 patients, including 509 who were given wheelchairs or crutches.

Providing clean water and sanitation

Access to clean water remains difficult in much of Yemen. ICRC engineers are repairing and upgrading water infrastructure, mainly in rural and neglected areas prone to violence. They are also completing upgrades and new construction in prison facilities and deportation centres in Sana'a and Aden that will improve living conditions for some 1,000 detainees.

Between April and July, more than 2,530 internally displaced migrants in Mandabah camp, in the Baqim district of Sa'ada governorate, and some 9,900 people in violence-torn areas of Sa'ada city, were supplied with water by ICRC trucks.

According to Andrea Pascarelli, who coordinates the ICRC's water and habitat activities in Yemen, although the ICRC has managed to maintain ongoing projects, it has sometimes become more difficult for it to guarantee the quality of work. "The reason we want to see the people ourselves, and to keep on visiting them over and over, is to make sure we can sustain their quality of life and fix whatever problems they may face with the services we have provided for them," he said. "In the long run, that matters too."

Detainee-welfare and tracing services

Over the past few months, over 4,200 people held in nine places of detention in Aden, Sa'ada, Sana’a and Taiz have been visited by ICRC delegates. In addition, around 200 people held in the Sana'a deportation centre have been given food and hygiene items on a monthly basis by the ICRC.

Around 1,300 Red Cross messages have been collected and 500 distributed through the network of national Red Cross and Red Crescent societies and the ICRC delegation. Over 150 tracing requests have been processed, including 16 new requests received between April and July. Seventeen missing people have been traced and had contact restored with their families.

Detainees in Guantanamo and Afghanistan have kept in touch with their families via 30 phone calls and 53 video calls arranged by the ICRC.

Promoting compliance with international humanitarian law

In May, 24 representatives from the ministries of human rights, legal affairs, and justice, and from the Constitutional and Legal Affairs Committee of the Yemeni parliament and the bar association, participated in a four-day course on incorporating international humanitarian law into Yemeni domestic legislation. In April, over 1,000 officers from the Air Defence College, Al-Dialamy Airbase and the National Defence College, and from various armoured brigades, attended a series of lectures on international humanitarian law in Sana'a, Taiz, Amran and Aden.

In order to expand knowledge of international humanitarian law within the Yemen High Military Academy, the ICRC financed the participation of an army colonel in a course in San Remo in May.

Furthermore, over 100 students and teachers from Al Andalous and Al Imam universities participated in lectures on international humanitarian law and humanitarian principles. A further 100 attended a one-day session on international humanitarian law and Islam organized in cooperation with the Yemeni Ministry of Endowment.

Building the capacity of the Yemen Red Crescent Society

In May, the ICRC and the Yemen Red Crescent Society signed a partnership framework agreement with the aim of enhancing the capacity of the Yemen Red Crescent to meet the humanitarian needs of the population.

Between March and July, the ICRC also supported the establishment of a new Yemen Red Crescent branch in Mareb governorate, and provided first-aid training to seven branches of the national society. In Abyan, to build Yemen Red Crescent fleet capacity, the ICRC provided the branch with a new ambulance.

For further information, please contact:
Marie Claire Feghali, ICRC Sana'a, tel: +967 736 071 or +967 711 944 343
Dibeh Fakhr, ICRC Geneva, tel: +41 22 730 37 23 or +41 79 447 37 26


Photos

Khanfar district, Abyan province. Residents clean irrigation canals under an ICRC cash for work programme. 

Khanfar district, Abyan province. Residents clean irrigation canals under an ICRC cash for work programme.
© ICRC

Khanfar district, Abyan province. The ICRC distributes seed to farmers in cooperation with the Yemen Red Crescent Society. 

Khanfar district, Abyan province. The ICRC distributes seed to farmers in cooperation with the Yemen Red Crescent Society.
© ICRC

Al Habra Prison, Sana'a. ICRC delegates inspect a newly constructed area of the prison. 

Al Habra Prison, Sana'a. ICRC delegates inspect a newly constructed area of the prison.
© ICRC / M.-C. Feghali

Al Habra detention facility, Sana'a. An ICRC delegate discusses kitchen renovation with a representative of the prison authority.  

Al Habra detention facility, Sana'a. An ICRC delegate discusses kitchen renovation with a representative of the prison authority.
© ICRC / M.-C. Feghali