Local News

Yemen Bears the Burden of the Third-Largest Number of Refugees

Asma al-Mohattwari

Under the slogan “One Family Torn Apart By War Is Too Many”the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) celebrated the World Refugee Day.

As of the end of 2013, Yemen hosts over 240,000 refugees, the majority of whom are from Somalia and receive prima facie refugee status. In April 2014, UNHCR recorded 8,356 new arrivals and all were Ethiopian.

Johannes Van Der Klaauw, UNHCR representative to Yemen, said that the conflicts in Syria, South Sudan, Iraq, and central Africa increased the number of refugees in Yemen. “Since we celebrated World Refugee Day last year, 2.5 million Syrians have become refugees and 6 million more are displaced within the country. In the last week more than 500,000 Iraqis have been forcibly displaced from Mosul alone,” he said.

According to Klaauw, Yemen shares the responsibility for hosting the third largest refugee population in the world, the Somalis. There are over 230,000 Somalis in Yemen who are part of a population of more than 1.1 million living as refugees around the world.

UNHCR representative to Yemen added that last November the Yemeni Government organized a regional conference on Asylum and Migration which involved a multiplicity of UN agencies, NGOs, and 14 governments from the Horn of Africa and Gulf States region. The result was the Sana’a Declaration. “This declaration recognized the need for a refugee protection system across the region as well as addressing the root causes that result in the flight of refugees.”

In his part, Salem Amir al-Aidaroos, Deputy Foreign Minister, said that Yemen was committed to receiving refugees from various countries around the world, especially countries of the Horn of Africa as a commitment to ethical and humanitarian values and not because it is a signatory to international conventions.

He explained that there are around 750,000 illegal refugees living in Yemen, sharing work, school, hospitals, and living.

“Yemen does not call for payments from the international community to Yemen or direct support, but urges the international community to assume its responsibility to humanity and morality in dealing with the problems of refugees from the root; it is unreasonable that the problems of Somalis remain without any solutions despite, their presence for more than 24 years,” he added.

Klaauw also called on the international community to assume its responsibility towards refugees in various countries around the world and to contribute to addressing the problems of the countries that are sending refugees.