Human Rights

Government organisation in Yemen calls for more help for IDPs

By Faisal Darem in Sanaa

Aid organisations deliver food aid to internally displaced people in Yemen. [Photo courtesy of the Executive Unit for IDPs]

Aid organisations deliver food aid to internally displaced people in Yemen. [Photo courtesy of the Executive Unit for IDPs]

As the war in Yemen grinds on, millions of internally displaced persons (IDPs) are in urgent need of food aid.

Local and international organisations are working hard to support IDPs and mitigate the effects of the war, but more needs to be done, said head of the Executive Unit for IDPs in Yemen Abdelwahab al-Washli.

The Executive Unit, a Sanaa-based government organisation, is in the process of building a national database for IDPs, al-Washli said in an interview with Al-Mashareq, and is also working to improve the provision of food aid to IDPs, as they are the population segment hardest hit by the war.

Al-Mashareq: How many registered IDPs are there in Yemen?

Abdelwahab al-Washli: The number of IDPs as a result of the war in Yemen, which started in March 2015, exceeds 3.2 million.

This figure was compiled by UN organisations working in the field but is not representative of the actual number of IDPs, but is rather a number compiled by the displacement tracking matrix (DTM). Some were displaced as a result of the war and most of those left their homes involuntarily because their cities and regions, such as Saada province and others, were turned into war zones.

The Executive Unit is currently building a national database to register IDPs in order to better deliver aid to them, as they are the hardest hit segment.

Al-Mashareq: What is the size of aid provided to IDPs, and is it sufficient?

Al-Washli: The aid provided to IDPs by humanitarian organisations is still scant and covers [the needs of] no more than 20 or 30% of the number of registered IDPs accounted for by the DTM.

Humanitarian aid is not confined to supporting IDPs only but rather all affected and vulnerable segments of society. International reports say 85% of the population is in need of food aid, in other words, the majority of Yemenis are in need of food aid due to the war and blockade.

IDPs are the most affected segment [of the population] and receive only a portion of this aid. The World Food Program says it is providing food aid to 3 million people, and the IDPs are only a fraction of them.

Al-Mashareq: How are the needs of the IDPs addressed in light of the insufficient international aid?

Al-Washli: Local communities are providing a larger amount of aid to IDPs than are international humanitarian organisations. That is why the Executive Unit is building a national database to register IDPs in order to better direct aid to them. [...]

Local communities and local community organisations and charities, as well as philanthropists, support the IDPs from time to time but not on a regular basis. Yet their support is greater than that provided by humanitarian organisations.

Al-Mashareq: Why is the idea of establishing IDP camps not being considered given that the war is continuing and the number of IDPs is on the rise?

Al-Washli: The establishment of permanent IDP camps is hard due to the inability of international organisations to meet all the needs of these camps, including food aid and health and education services.

Additionally, some of the existing camps are being subjected to acts of violence, which has curbed the establishment of [new] camps, and pushed IDPs to flee to neighbouring provinces to reside in schools and temporary sites set up for them.

Many of the IDPs also have opted to live with relatives or acquaintances who opened their homes for them and sheltered them, while some returned to their villages and others managed to rent homes in the cities they were displaced to and are working hard to make a living.

Thus the [actual] number of IDPs is larger than the figures being mentioned by international organisations.

Al-Mashareq: Why is the food aid distributed to all segments of society and not only to IDPs who are most in need of it?

Al-Washli: Yemeni society in its entirety has been affected by the war, so it was imperative for international humanitarian organisations to provide food aid to all those affected directly, such as the IDPs, or indirectly by the war.

Those indirectly affected are the 85% of the population mentioned in international reports as needing food aid. They include the most vulnerable segments, such as women, children and the elderly, as well as the unemployed. The war has affected all aspects of economic life and targeted economic interests and the private sector, and most people have lost their businesses and turned from being producers to being unemployed awaiting food aid.

International organisations must play a bigger role in covering the food needs of IDPs and all those affected by the war in general and work in earnest to find consensual solutions to stop the war and put an end to the human suffering, which is increasing day after day.

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There are displaced people who are not registered with the displaced people registers.


The executive unit administration in Yemen is a source of fraud and manipulation.