The ICRC in Yemen: facts and figures 2010
09-08-2011 Field Newsletter
A round-up of ICRC activities in Yemen during 2010.
Food, shelter and other relief material
In Sa'ada governorate, displaced persons in six Yemen Red Crescent-run camps, five in and around Sa'ada city and one in Mandaba close to the border with Saudi Arabia, the residents in Sa'ada old city and in areas of Sahar and al-Safra districts were among the most regular beneficiaries of emergency assistance. Throughout 2010:
- over 39,000 displaced persons and around 53,000 residents received ICRC and Yemen Red Crescent food and essential household items (such as blankets, mattresses, kitchen sets and other basic items) once or more times.
- The food rations and essential household items improved the recipients' economic security situation by also enabling them to divert their meagre financial resources to cover other expenses. Persons displaced in camps and in the Old City of Sa'ada also received additional shelter material, in particular tents.
In Amran governorate:
- over 43,000 displaced persons and 13,000 residents in Harf Sufyan, Houth and other districts in the governorate were assisted with food and essential household items.
- to help preserve the livelihoods of more than 10,200 people in Harf Sufyan and al-Asha districts, in northern Amran governorate, the ICRC has treated 43,000 animals against screw worms, a deadly parasite that can be transmitted to humans. While most people in the governorate earn their living from agriculture, the majority of those living in Harf Sufyan, al-Asha and elsewhere in the north of Amran rely on livestock as their main source of income. The sale of one sheep or goat, for example, can put food on the table for a family of seven for up to two weeks.
Supplying clean water and sanitation
Nearly 140,000 people benefited from improved water supply and sanitation, mainly in Sa'ada governorate. This included:
- the daily truck deliveries of drinking water (nearly 700,000 litres/day) to cover the needs of displaced persons hosted in camps in Sa'ada governorate and of some 100,000 people in Sa'ada city itself through 73 ICRC-constructed water points.
- to meet sanitation requirements for the camp populations, additional septic tanks and latrines were installed to ensure a healthy environment and disease prevention. Work was also under way in the city to boost water-storage capacity.
- some 10,000 people in Dahyan town, west of Sa'ada city, had regular access to clean water through the provision of diesel to run network pumping stations that were constructed or rehabilitated by the ICRC in 2008 and 2009. Where possible, water networks and outlets damaged or destroyed in the fighting were replaced or repaired; rural communities in the Sa'ada districts of Al-Oqab, Al-Khodad, Al-Mazroh, Al-Hamati, Sudan and Hajarat Fallah stood to benefit from such projects.
- another 10,000 beneficiaries living in temporary settlements in the Amran districts of Al-Gubba, Houth, Khaiwan and Khamer had a daily water supply by the provision of fuel to activate pumping stations extracting water from existing boreholes.
- in the southern governorate of Shabwa, southeast of the country, the residents of Al-Hota had fled to the town of Azzan, where the ICRC provided water to over 4,300 displaced persons, while some 4,500 residents of Kawkaban, in Lahj governorate south of the country, benefited from improved water supply after the rehabilitation of the local water network.
- More than 150,000 people living in conflict-affected areas consulted either one of the 13 healthcare facilities, run by the Yemen Red Crescent or the health authorities in Amran and Sa'ada governorates with the support of the ICRC, including the provision of medical supplies and equipment alongside management and staff training support.
- The ICRC improved the population's access to basic healthcare by completing the commissioning of a re-located and upgraded joint Yemen Red Crescent YRCS and Ministry of Health centre in Sa'ada City, and completed the rehabilitation of a similar centre in Amran City. A consultation room in Khaiwan Al-Medina health centre, north of Amran governorate, was also enlarged to better accommodate the influx of outpatients, and preliminary cleaning-up and levelling of the Al-Harf health centre in northern Amran was completed.
- A Ministry of Health malaria-control programme was reinforced through the provision of 7,500 insecticide-treated mosquito nets supplied by the ICRC and distributed in the districts of Harf Sufyan and Houth in Amran governorate before summer 2010; in parallel, training for 44 Ministry of Health staff and Yemen Red Crescent volunteers on anti malaria measures was carried out.
- More than 90 doctors from different governorates attended a War Surgery Seminar held at the 48 Model Military Hospital in Sana'a. Furthermore, the ICRC trained more than 80 Yemen Red Crescent personnel from 12 governorates on first-aid to strengthen and update their skills; it also supported four such trainings in Aden for Yemen Red Crescent personnel and Ministry of Health ambulance drivers and first-aid staff to enable them to respond to urgent medical needs.
Physical rehabilitation and orthopaedic services
ICRC-supported Ministry of Health facilities continued to receive material and training support to produce prostheses and other orthopaedic appliances using ICRC polypropylene technology:
- over 9,000 patients who have lost a limb or more received services at one of the four physical rehabilitation facilities in Aden, Mukalla, Taiz and Sana'a. Patients living in the north and unable to reach Sana'a were also able to obtain treatment in the ICRC-supported clinic in Sa'ada city between April and June.
- seven local technicians sponsored by the ICRC pursued specialised training at a school in India to enhance their capacity to administer quality services at their centres in Yemen.
- two national meetings were held, one in Sana'a and another in Aden, gathering 25 representatives involved in all ICRC-supported facilities, to discuss ways to enhance the quality of the services.
- for the first time in Yemen, over 400,000 short messages (SMS) were broadcasted in to promote the five ICRC-supported physical rehabilitation facilities of the Ministry of Health, launching a series of calls for over a month from people who wanted to enquire about these services.
Persons deprived of freedom
- The Yemeni authorities and the ICRC pursued their bi-lateral and confidential dialogue on ICRC access to all detainees in Yemen to monitor their living conditions. As a result, detention visits resumed in Sana'a in July 2010, and three visits were carried out, during which the ICRC registered around 240 persons deprived of freedom. The ICRC offered to help detainees maintain contact with their families using Red Cross Messages (short letters containing family news), while 13 Certificates of Detention were issued for those who wished so upon their release.
- Since the beginning of the year, in cooperation with the Yemen Red Crescent, more than 8,600 irregular migrants, mainly from the Horn of Africa, held in precarious conditions while awaiting deportation, continued to receive emergency assistance (food, basic healthcare, and hygiene products) to ensure their well-being and good health. Moreover, some 1,080 migrants held in the central prisons of Taiz and al-Hodeida were assisted with blankets, mattresses, soap, washing powder and food plates.
- Around 200 female detainees held in 10 central prisons throughout the country continued to benefit from a vocational training programme (sewing, weaving, literacy, handicraft, embroidery and computer courses) run by 36 Yemen Red Crescent volunteers with the training and material support of the ICRC. This programme, which has been running for over 10 years, aims at breaking the isolation of female prisoners, improving their living conditions while in detention through income-generated from the sale of their products, and facilitating their reintegration into society after their release. In this perspective, the ICRC donated sewing equipment and fabrics to 19 former female detainees, who had attended the programme, to encourage them to work and make a living. Day nursery services and facilities were also provided for female detainees accompanied by their children in three central prisons.
Restoring and maintaining family links
- For the first time in the country, four video teleconference calls were organised at ICRC offices between persons held at the Guantanamo Bay United States Naval Station in Cuba and their families in Yemen in December 2010; the video calls, which can last up to one hour, gave the detainees and their families the opportunity not only to speak but also to see each other, in some cases for the first time in almost a decade.
- Families in Yemen also restored or maintained contact with their relatives held in Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon and Guantanamo Bay, exchanging over 3,800 Red Cross Messages through the ICRC-Yemen Red Crescent tracing network. These contacts were enhanced through 240 ICRC-facilitated phone calls between families and their detained relatives, and through news transmitted by an ICRC delegate who had visited Guantanamo Bay.
- Refugees and asylum seekers, mainly from countries in the Horn of Africa, also continued to rely on the same services for contact with their families abroad. More than 3,200 Red Cross Messages were exchanged, nearly 160 new requests to trace missing persons were opened, and some 40 cases were closed positively while over 200 remain open.
Working with the Yemen Red Crescent Society
Throughout 2010, thousands of persons affected by the armed conflict in the north remained dependent on ICRC and Yemen Red Crescent humanitarian assistance. To reinforce the Yemen Red Crescent's capacity to respond to the needs effectively, be it in the northern parts of the country or elsewhere, the ICRC supported it as follows:
- in Sa'ada, the Yemen Red Crescent launched the construction of a permanent branch building to house administrative offices and the healthcare centre. Two water trucks were donated to the Yemen Red Crescent branch in Sa'ada to assist victims of armed conflict by delivering drinking water to some 120,000 displaced persons living in Sa'ada and two vehicles to strengthen their logistic capacity. The branch also established a sewing workshop, in which 16 displaced women were trained on how to generate income to sustain their livelihoods.
- in Amran, the Yemen Red Crescent received two vehicles to strengthen their logistic capacity; similarly, vehicles were made available to the branches of Aden, Abyan and Sana'a to improve their emergency response. Furthermore, 200 first aid back packs, IT equipments and office furniture were handed over to several Yemen Red Crescent branches.
- trained 30 Yemen Red Crescent staff and volunteers from the governorates of Aden, Lahj, Al Dhale', Abyan, Shabwa, Taiz and Hadramout on emergency preparedness and response. The ICRC further trained 24 volunteers in contingency planning, assessment and the implementation of relief operations and, 13 on planning primary healthcare projects. The Yemen Red Crescent recruited up to 200 female volunteers to deal with female-managed households.
- the Yemen Red Crescent organised two events on the occasion of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Day in May, one in the capital Sana'a and the other in the city of Aden; the latter aimed at cleaning the streets and raising awareness on sanitation in the city. Publications, identification vests and a bi-monthly magazine were also produced to help raise awareness about the Yemen Red Crescent among a variety of segments in the society.
- in order to improve understanding of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, its activities and International Humanitarian Law, the ICRC worked with the Yemen Red Crescent to establish a network of staff and volunteers in charge of communication activities at governorate and country levels; this network stems from the headquarters in the capital and the identified nine priority branches of Abyan, Aden, Amran, al-Dhale', Hajja, Taiz, Sa'ada, Sana'a and Shabwa. To strengthen the capacities of this network, a two-day meeting gathering the 13 identified staff and volunteers was held in October, followed by an extensive three-day training in November.
- regular meetings between the ICRC, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, and other national societies working in Yemen were organised to coordinate the International Movement's humanitarian activities and respond to needs in a complementary manner.
Promoting knowledge and respect for IHL
Raising awareness about the International Movement of the Red Cross and the Red Crescent and international humanitarian law (IHL) – the law applicable in times of armed conflicts – among various segments of the Yemeni society remained an integral part of the ICRC's work. In 2010:
- various ICRC meetings and workshops were held at country, regional and international levels not only to train participants on IHL and related matters, but to offer platforms to discuss IHL contemporary challenges and applicability. Participants to such events included key members of the Yemeni society, government representatives, diplomats, judges, detention authorities, military and police forces, as well as universities.
- tribal leaders and religious scholars and Islamic Law students in the country were among the main entities the ICRC had in-depth dialogues with to speak about IHL and its relevance to the local culture and Islam; in this respect, the ICRC held sessions hundreds of audiences at al-Iman University in Sana'a, the College of Islamic and Applied Sciences in Taiz, south of the country, in Tareem, east of Yemen, in cooperation with the Dar Al-Mustafa Foundation, and in the governorate of Amran, among others.
- national and regional media outlets were regularly kept informed about IHL and humanitarian issues of concern, Yemen Red Crescent and ICRC activities in the country through news reports and local productions. Moreover, a two-day workshop was organised in Sana'a in October gathering 18 Yemeni media personnel representing prominent local and regional media outlets to increase their knowledge about the ICRC and deepen their understanding of IHL while covering armed conflicts, and shed light on the protection IHL affords to journalists. For this same purpose, one journalist was invited to attend a two-day regional workshop in Cairo in December, which gathered prominent media personnel from the Middle East and North African region.
- The ICRC-supported Exploring Humanitarian Law (EHL) programme, carried out in cooperation with the Ministry of Education, continued to be taught for the forth school year in a row in approximately 64 schools in 16 governorates throughout the country.
The ICRC in Yemen : historical overview: 1962-2010
The ICRC has been active in Yemen since 1962, when armed conflict broke out between Republican and Royalists after the overthrow of the Imamate in the north of the country. During years of fighting, ICRC delegates were providing medical assistance, visiting prisoners of war on both sides and acting as a neutral intermediary between them. In 1968, the ICRC founded the first orthopaedic facility in Sana'a, which has been expanded to five facilities at present, subsequently handed over to the Yemeni authorities.
In the south of Yemen, the ICRC established its first contacts during the "war of independence" and ran a delegation in Aden from 1967 to 1974.
During the 1980s, ICRC delegates were carrying out visits to detainees in the north and the south of Yemen. After the country's unification in 1990, the ICRC concluded a new agreement with the Republic of Yemen and opened a delegation in the capital Sana'a and an office in Aden in 1994. During the internal armed conflict that same year, it provided assistance to civilians in the "war zone", organised the evacuation of foreign nationals, visited detainees and acted as a neutral intermediary between the parties to the armed conflict.
From 1995 onwards, the ICRC worked in Yemen through its Regional Delegation in Kuwait and its office in Sana'a, providing substantial aid to the Yemen Red Crescent, promoting International Humanitarian Law, and visiting detained persons during certain periods.
The Sana'a office became again a delegation in 1999. Since then, the ICRC gradually began expanding its activities in the country, starting with a presence in the northern governorate of Sa'ada in 2004, which lead to the opening of a sub-delegation there in 2007. In 2009, another sub-delegation was opened in the northern governorate of Amran, while an office was established in Aden in 2010. The ICRC has been working together with its partner, the Yemen Red Crescent Society (YRCS) since the latter's foundation in 1970.
Nowadays, the ICRC counts a 146-strong team in Yemen, including around 40 international staff members. In 2010, in close partnership with the volunteers and staff of the Yemen Red Crescent, ICRC teams provided humanitarian assistance to tens of thousands of vulnerable families, both residents and internally displaced persons (IDPs), in Amran and Sa'ada governorates, as well as in Shabwa and in Lahj governorates, which included food, essential household items, shelter, water and the provision of basic healthcare services. In addition to this, in mid-2010, ICRC re-launched its visits to persons held in places of detention in Yemen to monitor their living conditions and help them restore and maintain contact with their families.