Yemen

Situation Report
Access
Overview of the Humanitarian Access Incidents

Humanitarian community reaffirms commitment to Yemen amid concerns on shrinking operating space

The European Commission and Sweden hosted a Humanitarian Senior Officials meeting on the humanitarian crisis in Yemen on 13 February in Brussels. All participants at the meeting, who included donors, United Nations agencies and international non-governmental organizations (INGOs), expressed a shared concern and commitment to act collectively.

In a joint statement, the Commissioner for Crisis Management Janez Lenarčič and the Swedish Minister for International Development Cooperation Peter Eriksson expressed concern at the rapidly shrinking humanitarian space. They called on all parties to actively support the UNled negotiations aimed at a peaceful solution to the crisis, to protect civilians and to comply with International Humanitarian Law. “We brought together the main humanitarian actors engaged in the Yemen crisis, the world largest humanitarian crisis. Needs in Yemen are unprecedented. All humanitarian actors remain firmly committed to continue providing vital support to the people of Yemen in line with humanitarian principles. We are deeply alarmed at the rapidly deteriorating humanitarian space all over the country. It has reached a breaking point where delivery of life-saving assistance is at risk.

A concrete step change is needed in order to continue to provide vital support to the people of Yemen. All restrictions, obstructions and interference violating humanitarian principles should be removed immediately and once and for all.” Donors reaffirmed their full support for the UN, INGOs and other humanitarian organizations operating in Yemen.

Humanitarian and development organizations agreed on a shared commitment to remain engaged and ready to help the Yemeni population. Part of the commitment includes recalibrating assistance, including a downscaling, or even interruption, of certain operations, if and where delivery of aid in accordance with the humanitarian principles is impossible. The commitment also includes a dialogue with all parties and the recent indication of willingness to remove constraints for aid delivery on the ground needs to be followed up. The meeting also paid tribute to the work of all our partners who are operating under extreme conditions on the ground.

A non-permissive operating environment

The Brussels meeting came against a backdrop of increasing humanitarian access challenges, making Yemen one of the most non-permissive operating environment in the world. Between October and November 2019 humanitarian partners reported 719 access incidents across 141 districts in 20 governorates, an upsurge compared to 502 incidents reported in August and September. Persistent delays in project approvals by authorities continue to block a timely and effective response. By the end of February, 123 NGO projects remain unimplemented, in part or in full, due to authorities’ pending approvals of sub-agreements.

The pending projects target an estimated 8.2 million people in need and have a cumulative budget of $280 million. NGO partners reported 82 projects pending with authorities in Sana’a and 41 projects pending with the authorities in Aden. Between October 2019 and February 2020, 69 NGO projects were reported approved.

Unimplemented projects have been pending approval for over six months on average. Severe challenges were reported for those projects pending approval with Sana’a authorities, which only approved half of the submitted projects since 2019. Between October and November, aid agencies faced an unprecedented number of delays, denials and blockages in reaching people in need. Up to 400 incidents of movement restrictions were 4 reported and this is nearly two and a half times higher than in August and September.

More than 90 per cent of the reported movement constraints were reported in the north and these range from delays and denials of travel permits impacting needs assessments, deliveries of humanitarian assistance as well as monitoring activities. In the south, Ad Durayhimi and At Tuhayta in Al Hudaydah Governorate remain hard-to-reach due to ad hoc restrictions on humanitarian movements. Interference in humanitarian operations by local authorities continued, with over 148 separate incidents reported. This predominantly pertained to interference in beneficiary registration, tampering with in-kind aid distributions and attempts to divert aid. In the north, 146 directives that contravene the neutrality and independence of humanitarian operations, global humanitarian standards, and contractual agreements with international donors continued to affect the aid operation since 2019.

In the south, challenges associated with securing project sub-agreements, NGO principal agreements and visas were reported. Violence against humanitarian personnel and assets remained pervasive, predominantly in the northern areas. Some 142 separate incidents were reported in October and November, including 40 incidents reported. This predominantly pertained to interference in beneficiary registration, tampering with in-kind aid distributions and attempts to divert aid.

In the north, 146 directives that contravene the neutrality and independence of humanitarian operations, global humanitarian standards, and contractual agreements with international donors continued to affect the aid operation since 2019. In the south, challenges associated with securing project sub-agreements, NGO principal agreements and visas were reported. Violence against humanitarian personnel and assets remained pervasive, predominantly in the northern areas. Some 142 separate incidents were reported in October and November, including 40 incidents of assault, intimidation, arbitrary detention and other forms of mistreatment against staff and 102 incidents of theft and looting of relief supplies.

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