Suleiman (45 years old) is a fisherman from Al-Hodeidah and now he is an internally displaced person in Ras Emran (Aden). His only income was fishing. Because of the war, he could not continue fishing in Al – Hodeidah after some of his friends were killed by airstrikes, and others were killed in the fish market which was hit by airstrikes several times. 

He is afraid to face his friends fate since they were killed without having committed any sins- they were only fishermen. Because of the war, he faced many difficulties in Al-Hodeidah, the high cost of living, no money to buy fishing tools and the fuel for the boat to go out to the sea.  Even before the war, his life was difficult and strenuous as he was staying   out at sea for many days, but at least it was a safe life.  Since the war started - he no longer feels safe.

When the clashes moved closer to the area where he lived, he heard people say that they should store basic food items because they would not be able to get out of their homes. Suleiman has a big family; one wife, 7 children and 2 grandchildren. He stored a few basic food items, which was enough for a few days. After a few days, the food was close to running out so he had to go out and buy some food and store it. He did this three times despite clashes coming to his area.  

One day, Suleiman made a tough decision – it was about surviving. He fled with his family, and they left with only the clothes that they were wearing. He sold his wife's jewellery and his animals to pay for transportation and travel expenses. He fled to Ras Emran (Aden) where he could continue work as a fisherman. It took three days to get here.

 As an internally displaced person he feels like a stranger in the area that he fled to. He cannot act or live as freely as he used to do in Al-Hodeidah before the war. He doesn't know the condition of his house in Al-Hodaidah. Maybe it was hit by an airstrike or is occupied by someone else.  But the most important thing for him is that he and his family are safe. 

Currently, Suleiman works together with other fishermen to provide a living for his family.  But it is not easy to find enough work. He has a wife, 7 children and 1 grandchild. He works for a daily fee between 3000 to 5000 Yemeni Riyals, and he needs many things   for his family to live as he and his family left everything behind when they fled.

Suleiman hopes that the war will end so he can return to his home. So that he can go back to his work. And his children can live in peace and safety like other children in the world and go back to school to finish their education. His message to the international community is to help and stand by Yemeni people in their ordeal and to do their best to stop this war in a peaceful manner and to make Yemen safe and secure for people.

Photo: Ingrid Prestetun/NRC
How NRC makes a difference

Fishing for a future

Once, Suleiman had his own boat and fished the rich waters around Hodeidah, on Yemen’s west coast. Then, violence came. Suleiman lost everything when he and his family were forced to flee. Now they’re starting a new life in the southern port of Ras Emran.

Coastal communities have suffered greatly in Yemen’s ongoing bloody conflict. Fishing boats, ports and processing sites have been destroyed or damaged, and many fishermen have lost their lives. NRC is helping to revive the industry, rebuilding essential facilities so that fishermen like Suleiman can continue to support their families.

In the chaos of flight and its immediate aftermath, displaced people often struggle to get enough to eat. In the longer term, the food production systems and livelihoods that they rely on are frequently disrupted or destroyed altogether.

At NRC, we believe that everyone should have access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food. We work to ensure that displaced people have enough to eat and are able to go on feeding themselves and their families, whatever the future may bring.

Fish, fear and flight

The war in Yemen began in 2015. As the conflict raged, the Saudi-led coalition launched airstrikes which hit fishing boats and markets, and mines were laid in the sea making the waters treacherous. “We felt fear at sea because of the war, the battleships and the mines,” Suleiman recalls. “I know many fishermen who have been killed at sea and in the fish market.”

As the fighting drew nearer, Suleiman and his neighbours began to store food, worried that they would not be able to leave their homes. When the violence reached his neighbourhood, he had to take a tough decision. Fearing for his children’s lives, he decided to flee.

Suleiman sold his animals and his wife’s jewellery to pay for the trip. He and his family left with only the clothes they were wearing. They travelled for three days, arriving at last in Ras Emran, a coastal village near the southern city of Aden. “I do not know if my house was hit or stolen,” he reveals. “The most important thing is that my family and I are safe and secure.”

Helping fishermen back on their feet

Once the country’s second biggest export behind oil and gas, the fishing industry in Yemen was in danger of collapse. “In Yemen, fishing is an important but neglected sector,” explains Qayyum Shah, livelihood manager with NRC in Yemen. “NRC is supporting fishermen by rehabilitating fish landing sites and fish markets. We are also providing fishing gear and safety kits to fishermen.”

Abdohamid (57 years old – not an IDP). 
He worked with fishing authority (governmental sector) and retired.
He has seven children and all the retired salaries of the government sector are little without incentives; therefore, he looked for another source of income covering a shortage.

He has now started working with a mobile trader as an assistant, where they buy the fish whole sale from the fish market and then sell to customers.

This fish markets Al Hotta Lahj (South Yemen) was established back in 1979 by the Yemeni Government, to provide a market place to boost the fishing sector. Unfortunately, for many years the market remained closed or dysfunctional due to successive conflicts and wars in the area. During the 2015 conflict the building was damaged resulting in its complete closure.

Abdohamid and NRC Food security and Livelihood officer  Amr Al-Saqqaf is greeting.

Photo: Ingrid Prestetun/NRC
Abdohamid (pictured right) retired from his position with the fishing authority but his small pension was not enough to support his seven children. He has now started working as a mobile trader, buying fish wholesale from the fish market and selling it to customers. Photo: Ingrid Prestetun/NRC

Another NRC project is helping coastal communities to diversify their livelihoods so that they are not completely dependent on the sea. We are training 600 women to acquire skills that will enable them to develop their own small businesses, so they can generate an income of their own. 

Meanwhile, Suleiman is fishing again in his new home in Ras Emransharing a boat with other fishermen. Life is hard and he misses Hodeidah, but he is able once again to earn a living to help support his wife and seven children. 

Read Suleiman’s story 

Suleiman is one of more than 2.6 million people around the world who benefited from our livelihoods and food security programmes in 2018. Here are just a few of the ways we make a difference. 

Providing emergency supplies 

When people are forced to flee in large numbers, the basic necessities of life such as food and water are often hard to come by. In the worst cases, displaced people face malnutrition or even starvation. 

The winter of 2018–19 was a desperate time for thousands of displaced Syrians in Lebanon. Storms caused damages to infrastructure, roads and homes across the country, putting at least 70,000 refugees at risk. Many had to evacuate to alternative locations when their tents collapsed because of the flooding. 

Khitam, a 54-year-old woman from Syria, lives in one of the biggest refugee settlements in Lebanon, together with more than 1,500 refugees. She is one of seven refugee women cooking meals that are distributed to the refugees living in the settlement. 

"I work to support myself. My situation is dire and I don’t have anyone else who can provide for me," says Khitam.

Thanks to the generosity of our private sponsors, the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) was able to provide funding to a local Lebanese organisation, Union of Relief and Development Associations (URDA), that set up a kitchen in a refugee settlement in the Bekaa Valley in eastern Lebanon. URDA employs refugees to cook the food and distribute the meals to thousands of refugees living in tented settlements. 

Fled from Syria six years ago

Six years ago, Khitam fled from Homs in Syria to Lebanon with her husband and children. Her husband died three years later, leaving her alone. 

"My children have families and are barely able to feed their own children. I could never ask them to provide for me as well," she says. 

She is happy to be a part of the cooking group in the camp.

"Cooking food for other refugees makes me happy and the salary makes me able to support myself. It’s heavy work – we do everything from cutting chicken and boiling rice, to cleaning and preparing food boxes for over 1,000 people."

Over 1,500 meals for 300 refugee families

In March 2019, NRC supported the preparation of over 1,500 meals for 300 refugee families, the majority of whom were evacuated from their homes after the winter storms. Some of them have still not been able to return to their homes as their tents are being rehabilitated. 

Khitam and the other women receive a lot of positive feedback from people saying they’re enjoying their food. 

Through the cooking, the women come together and are able to keep their mind off their current lives as refugees. 

"Knowing I contribute to put food on the table for other refugee families and to feed their children makes it worth all the hard efforts I put into my cooking,” says Khitam.

Credit: Racha El Daoi/NRC
In March 2019, NRC supported the preparation of over 1,500 meals for 300 Syrian refugee families affected by winter storms in Lebanon. Photo: Nadine Malli/NRC

In March 2019, NRC supported the preparation of over 1,500 meals for 300 refugee families in the east of the countrymost of whom had been evacuated from their homes after the storms. Khitam, 54, was one of seven Syrian women who helped to cook the meals. A refugee herself, she had fled to Lebanon with her family six years earlier. 

“Knowing I contribute to put food on the table and feed the children of other refugee families makes it worth the effort I put into my cooking, she says. 

Read Khitam’s story 

Ensuring a healthy supply of food 

During conflicts, disasters and displacement, food production systems and markets face potential collapse. People lose their assets and their ability to earn a living is disrupted. 

For years, displaced farmers from north-east Nigeria were unable to produce their own food and depended solely on irregular and insufficient humanitarian aid for survival. Even after they returned home, the lack of seeds and tools meant they were unable to farm. 

Eighty-three year-old Ibrahim Yapatum spreads his sheaves of corn in the open to dry. He was among over 2,000 farmers who received seeds and farming implement the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) distributed in Kwajaffa, Miringa and Damboa in Borno State to help returnees rebuild their lives as farmers.
“I used to harvest about ten bags of maize – this year, I harvested 50 bags!” enthuses Ibrahim. He and his family were among over 2,000 returnee households who received training, seeds and farming materials from NRC in the Kwajaffa, Miringa and Damboa areas of Borno State, north-east Nigeria. Photo: Chima Onwe/NRC

In 2018, we provided training, seeds and farming materials to more than 2,000 returnee households in the KwajaffaMiringa and Damboa areas of Borno State, north-east Nigeria. The project is going well and maize harvests have so far been bountiful. As a result, 83-year-old farmer Ibrahim Yapatum and his family have a new-found independence and renewed hope for the future. 

“With the seeds, fertilisers and training from NRC, I harvested a lot more maize from my farm than I ever thought was possible,” he explainsI used to harvest about ten bags of maize – this year, I harvested 50 bags!” 

Read Ibrahim’s story 

Finding alternative sources of income 

When families are reliant on a single source of income, they become vulnerable. Traditional industries such as farming and fishing are particularly at risk from external factors such as conflict, drought and pollution. 

In Somalia the security situation is still unstable after years of conflict. Then, in 2017 the country was hit by its worst drought in 20 years – a disaster from which it is still recovering. As a result, millions of people have been displaced. Often, their livelihoods have been destroyed and they find themselves dependent on humanitarian assistance for survival. 

Fadumo Sharif, 29, is a mother and businessperson that live in Dolo-Somalia. She is the sole income source for a family of nine members. Fadumo has received ‘entrepreneurship and business management’ training and small grant of 500 USD to boost her business. She says, “Previously, our livelihood depended on collecting and selling woods. During the last drought, things very hard and we used to have two meals a day only. Luckily, I was enrolled in the business training conducted by NRC through the community elders. We were trained on business management and we received grants amounting to 500 USD to invest into our existing businesses. However, I decided to invest into new more profitable business than wood collection. I built a kiosk on my land and started with a small shop. Things have changed to better now. The business is going well. My children are able to go to school. Food shortage problem is solved and we are able to pay the water bills.”
Fadumo Sharif, 29, a mother and business owner from Dollow, south-western Somalia. Fadumo built a kiosk and started a small shop with support from NRC, and is now able to afford food, water and school fees for her family. Photo: Abdifatah Abdi Muse/NRC

To help families deal with shocks and stresses more effectively, NRC is participating in a support programme called Building Resilient Communities in Somalia. Part of this programme is an “income generation” initiative, whereby women receive training and funding to help them diversify their businesses. Fadumo Sharif, 29, used to struggle to feed her family on the money she earned from collecting firewood, but now runs a thriving shop. 

“I decided to invest in a new business that would be more profitable than wood collection,” she explainsI built a kiosk and started a small shop. Things have changed for the better. My children are able to go to school. The food shortage problem is solved and we are able to pay the water bills.” 

Read Fadumo’s story

Facts and figures 

In 2018 a total of 2.682,755 people benefited from our livelihoods and food security work, spread over 20 countries around the world. 

Find out more about our livelihoods and food security work here.

How you can make a difference 

Join us in supporting the 70.8 million people displaced by war and persecution worldwide. You can contribute to our work in the following ways: 

  1. Make a donation to NRC today – via our safe and easy online donation system.

  2. Start your own fundraising page – and invite friends and family to help you reach your target.

  3. Read about ten things YOU can do for the world’s refugees – and discover some creative ways that you can raise money and awareness. 

For alternative ways to donate, or if you’re a US citizen looking to make a 100% tax-deductible donation, please see our make a difference page.