In 2021, Yemen continued to face unrelenting conflict, triggering what the UN has described as one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises. At the start of 2021, it was estimated that 21 million Yemenis, or 2/3 of the population, were in need of humanitarian assistance, and 80% of the population lived below the poverty line (HNO 2021).
The crisis continued to destroy the economy, reverse pre-conflict development gains and exacerbate vulnerabilities. Loss of government revenue, commercial import restrictions and rising commodity prices have plunged the Yemeni population into deeper poverty and higher unemployment. Macroeconomic instability and the authorities’ inability to generate direct resources continued to prevent public services – notably health and education – from providing adequate support to the population. Amid denial and the failure of the healthcare system to respond adequately, COVID-19 continued to wreak havoc on people’s lives. The vaccination campaign, supported by the humanitarian community, could only be implemented in certain areas. Although inclusive of refugees, the implementation of the campaign proceeded more slowly than expected.
Yemen continued to be primarily a displacement and a serious protection crisis. While diplomatic efforts to find negotiated solutions have become mired in mistrust and factionalism, some 286,000 Yemenis are estimated to have been newly displaced in 2021, particularly when conflict resumed in areas such as Marib, Al Hudaydah , Taizz and Shabwah. A newly uprooted population has joined the millions of IDPs already in protracted displacement. In 2021, the total IDP population in Yemen reached record highs of 4.3 million, confirming that Yemen is one of the largest internal displacement crises due to conflict in the world. Although return trends were not properly tracked, durable solutions to displacement, including voluntary return, continued to face critical obstacles related to insecurity, lack of services and livelihood opportunities. , and sustainability.
Yemen remained a transit country for people from the East and Horn of Africa. While in 2021 arrivals have further decreased compared to pre-COVID-19 due to mobility restrictions (some 27,600 arrivals against pre-conflict trends of 130,000/year), the presence of foreigners was increasingly perceived by the authorities as an intolerable burden. Violations of the human rights of migrants were on the rise, combined with shrinking asylum space for the 102,082 refugees and asylum seekers.
The protection situation for millions of civilians remained serious. Although figures remain unverified, it is estimated that some 2,500 civilians were killed or injured by armed violence in Yemen in 2021, marking a 20% increase from 2020 and breaking a two-year downward trend. It is reported that one in five victims was a child. As part of a pattern of high casualty incidents, an increase in the number of casualties was noted in Marib and Sa’adah. The conflict continued to cause the distress of the population, the destruction of the infrastructures necessary for the survival of the population and the contamination of the land. The protracted nature of displacement, coupled with the socio-economic downturn, has continued to affect millions of Yemenis, pushing them into a spiral of negative coping strategies and fueling protection risks such as child labour, early marriage , forced recruitment and violence within the family and tensions between communities.
Once the country’s biggest source of foreign currency, remittances from abroad have been hit even harder by the measures against Yemeni foreign workers in Saudi Arabia, prompting the involuntary return of thousands of Yemeni migrants. At the same time, the restrictions imposed by the blockade of seaports and airports have prevented the entry of sufficient supplies into Yemen, hampered essential imports and aggravated the fuel crisis.
Displacement, economic decline, lack of public resources and poor water and sanitation services continued to negatively affect overall health conditions. Several waves of COIVD-19 have hit Yemen, and although officially reported cases are only around 10,000 during the pandemic, the impact of COVID-19 remains unknown due to the country’s limited capacity to test. and monitor the number of cases. In addition, a new outbreak of vaccine-derived poliovirus was detected in late 2021 and required a rapid response from specialized UN agencies.
The operating environment in Yemen has not improved. It remained confronted with the constraints and access restrictions encountered in the past; recurring bureaucratic obstacles; and new gender-based access constraints imposed by the authorities, particularly affecting female humanitarian workers (mahram).