Yemen marks World Refugee Day
Yemen Times Staff / Photos by the U.N. Refugee Agency (author)
The world celebrates World Refugee Day every June 20. In Yemen, both displaced people and refugees, who mostly come from the Horn of Africa urgently need humanitarian assistance.
Despite Yemen’s worsening humanitarian crisis, the flow of refugees to the country continues rising. The situation is aggravated by the internal displacement wave resulting from ongoing violence between the government and opponent-armed groups.
In 2011, more than 100,000 refugees, asylum seekers and migrants arrived along the Yemeni shores from the Horn of Africa. In May 2011, approximately 80,000 people in Abyan, southern Yemen, fled their homes to Aden and Lahj due to fierce battles between Ansar Al-Sharia—an Al-Qaeda affiliated group—and the army.
On Tuesday, the Yemeni army recaptured many towns of Abyan, which were taken by Ansar Al-Sharia, including the cities Zinjibar and Jaar, as well as the Port of Shuqra on the Arabian Sea.
Abyan’s displaced people said they are willing to return home, but their homes are destroyed—no water and no electricity.
In Hajja, northern Yemen, more than 1,000 Yemeni families left home due to sectarian conflicts between local Sunni tribesmen and the Shiite Houthi rebels based in Sa’ada. The two groups have fought six rounds of war with the Yemeni army between 2004 and 2010. The group took control of Sa’ada in March 2011. The battles forced 300,000 people to flee to Sana’a, and others have been camping in a Harad refugee camp, Al-Mazraq.
In the north, bloody battles erupted in May 2011 between Republican Guard forces commanded by former President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s son, Ahmed Ali Abdullah Saleh, and local tribesmen in Arhab, 30 km north of Sana’a, who sided with the opposition against Saleh’s rule. The fighting forced hundreds of families to leave their houses and to stay in neighboring districts or in Sana’a. Some lived in caves in Arhab after their houses were destroyed by heavy shelling.
In May, U.N. Special Envoy to Yemen Jamal Benomer told the Security Council only 43 percent of the $455 million in aid needed to alleviate Yemen’s humanitarian crisis has been funded by donors. And this amount excludes humanitarian assistance needed for refugees.