The small straight between the north of Djibouti and Yemen has been heavily trafficked by East African labour migrants seeking work and better opportunities on the Arabian peninsula. Now, the traffic has turned around. 
Picture taken by Souleiman Djama, 3rd of April.
Family arriving the port in Obokh from Bab el-Mandeb, Yemen. Crossing the strait in these fishing boats takes approximately 8 hours. Photo: NRC/Souleiman Djama

"The violence must end"

Hanne Eide Andersen|Published 17. Apr 2015
"The Yemen crisis is getting totally out of control. We must have a cease-fire and a political process that can end the violence," says NRCs Secretary General, Jan Egeland.

NRC is among the few humanitarian organisations that is still able to continue to work in the country.

Preparing for the influx of refugees, emergency shelter kits have been stored in a local school in Obokh, Djibouti. Once the construction of the refugee camp scales up, NRC is ready to roll out large scale construction of upgradable emergency shelters. Photo: NRC/Osman Miguil

In a new assessment report released this week, NRC estimates that in three of the affected governorates over 10 000 families are newly displaced as a direct consequence of the latest escalation of the conflict. Around 3500 of the families are currently living in open space or in tents and other improvised shelters . A large number has lost everything, including kitchen items, beddings, blankets and items of clothing.

The humanitarian situation continues to deteriorate as conflict spreads further throughout the country. There are now 18 out of 22 governorates affected by conflict, according to the UNHCR in their latest press briefing on the situation.  

16 million people in need

Already before the last week’s escalation of the conflict, 16 million people in Yemen were in need of humanitarian assistance, out of them 850 000 acute malnourished children.

Internally displaced families in Hajjah with makeshift cooking facilities. Photo: NRC

The new NRC report finds how even more people are now in a critical humanitarian situation, due to the last week’s house damage by bombing, severe fuel shortage, the lack of basic food items in the local markets and the limited access to some markets and health services due to security conditions. The absence of latrines and open defecation is a serious problem, causing diseases and creating a generally unhealthy environment.

Gave birth at sea

In addition to increasing internally displacement, the number of people fleeing out of the country is also rising. UNHCR and partners are now making contingency plans to receive up to 30,000 refugees in Djibouti and 100,000 in Somali over the next six months. 

Last Wednesday, a Yemeni woman gave birth while at sea on a boat that ferried refugees from Yemen to Somaliland, reports NRC staff in Berbera and Hargeisa in Somaliland

“This illustrates how bad the situation for civilians in Yemen has become. Even pregnant women are so desperate to escape Yemen that they embark on such a perilous sea journey. Every day our staff on the ground in the Horn of Africa see new refugees arriving by boat from the war and bombardment in Yemen. They arrive on the shores of Djibouti, Somalia and Kenya in a dire state of distress, desperation and despair,” says Jan Egeland.

“The parties to the conflict must allow humanitarian access to the conflict affected in Yemen so that people are not forced to leave the country to be safe and get the humanitarian assistance they need”, says Egeland.