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Women struggle to get by as Yemen conflict hits six-year mark

As the world’s worst humanitarian crisis rages on, women and children make up three-quarters of the four million people forced from their homes, putting them at greater risk.

Yemen. Internally displaced families in Ibb City

A single mother sits outside her shelter in a settlement for internally displaced people in Ibb city, Yemen. A quarter of all displaced families in the country are headed by women.  © UNHCR/Rakan Al-Badani

On a small patch of land on the outskirts of Hudaydah, Yemen’s main Red Sea port, 38-year-old Nabiha is attempting to rebuild her life brick by brick. Widowed in the early days of the country’s conflict and displaced multiple times by fighting, the mother-of-three is constructing a home she hopes will restore the stability her family has lost.

Originally from Al-Mokha, a city 185 kilometres down the coast famous for its historic coffee trade, Nabiha fled to Hudaydah with her mother, brother, daughter and two sons in 2015, after her husband was killed in an explosion while at work.

“He was rushed to the hospital, but after a week-long battle between life and death, he died,” Nabiha said. “It was a very bad and difficult time for us. I decided to leave. I was worried that my children would die too … if we stayed there.”

After spending most of her savings renting accommodation in Hudaydah, Nabiha again found herself caught up in intense fighting that erupted in the city at the end of 2017. The violence has killed more than 2,900 civilians and damaged more than 6,600 homes, 33 schools and 43 roads and bridges, making Hudaydah one of the worst affected cities in Yemen by six years of conflict.

“Families were killed and injured all around us.”

Without the means to leave and start over again elsewhere, Nabiha had no choice but to stay in the city, moving the family from place to place as the frontlines shifted.

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“I was living very close to the fighting. I had to move to another area because families were killed and injured all around us. We moved three times from one neighborhood to another to avoid bullets and airstrikes.” Nabiha said.

As Yemen’s conflict enters its seventh year this month, Nabiha’s desperate struggles have become a familiar experience for millions caught up in the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

Since 2015, more than 20,000 civilian deaths and injuries have been recorded and more than 4 million people have been forced to flee within the country’s borders. Three-quarters of internally displaced Yemenis are women and children, while one-in-four displaced families are headed by women like Nabiha.

In a patriarchal society like Yemen, where socio-cultural norms and practices shape the lives of women, the conflict has increased the risk of exploitation and abuse.

To try to support her family, Nabiha occasionally works as a housekeeper and uses the basic nursing skills she learned from her late husband ­– who was a nurse at a private hospital in Al-Mokha – working shifts at local private health clinics and giving patients injections, basic first aid and taking their blood pressure.

As well as earning her between 250-500 Yemeni Rials (US$2-4) per day, word of her skills also spread quickly among her neighbours, who come to her for help and refer to her affectionately as “doctor”. In a country facing a severe shortage of trained medical personnel and where only half of health facilities are still operational, the few skills Nabiha has go a long way.

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The little money she is able to earn is often insufficient to cover the family’s basic needs. Their diet consists almost entirely of rice and beans, and frequently they only have enough for one proper meal a day, with Nabiha sometimes skipping even these so her children have more to eat.

Such coping strategies have become common as Yemen’s hunger crisis deepens. Displaced families are four times more likely than other Yemenis to suffer from food insecurity, and according to assessments some 2.6 million displaced people in the country are just a step away from famine.

Nabiha has also received cash assistance from UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, as part of its efforts to assist and protect the most vulnerable forcibly displaced families inside the country.

Over the past two years, as people’s needs have increased, UNHCR’s cash assistance programme in the country has grown to become one of the five largest in the world, helping more than a million people annually. Such assistance is even more essential for the two thirds of displaced Yemeni families that, unlike Nabiha’s, have no form of income.

“I want a better life for them.”

It was thanks to the assistance she received, as well as securing a loan and using the last of her savings, that Nabiha was able to buy the land where she is now in the process of building a more permanent home for her family, far from the areas of continued fighting.

“It’s away from the city and close to a garbage dump, but it’s better than renting,” Nabiha said. “Before that, I used to pay rent and sometimes I didn’t have enough money to pay, and the landlord would threaten [to evict] me. Back then, I couldn’t sleep because I was thinking of how to manage the money for rent.”

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For now, the basic brick structure consists of only one room with a temporary roof which leaks when it rains. But in spite of their continuing hardships and the challenge of building a home on a shoestring, Nabiha hopes to provide her children with a proper education and with it the chance to achieve their dreams.

“My daughter wants to be a pharmacist … one of my boys wants to be a doctor and the second one wants to work in media,” Nabiha said. “I want my children to be independent. They are excellent in their studies. I want them to rely on themselves when I die. I want a better life for them; better than mine.”

Jean-Nicolas Beuze is UNHCR’s Representative in Yemen

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IOM launches open South America portal

International Organisation of Migration (

Buenos Aires – IOM, the International Organization for Migration, this week launched the Open South America Portal, a web platform providing migrants and stakeholders in the region with access to reliable and timely information on human mobility restrictions and health and safety measures adopted by governments in the COVID-19 pandemic.

Open South America, available in SpanishEnglish and Portuguese, shares official information by country on the latest measures, including border restrictions, quarantine requirements and COVID-19 tests for migrants and travellers.

The portal also provides updated information on authorized entry points and key places for travellers and migrants, such as consulates, migrant care and health centres, airports, border crossings points and ports. This information can be explored through an interactive map.

The platform, funded by the IOM Development Fund, is also accessible to vulnerable migrants who may be stranded or are at risk of receiving misinformation on migration.

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, South America has been one of the most impacted regions worldwide. According to the World Health Organization figures, as of 8 July 2021 there were 33,475,765 COVID-19 cumulative cases in the region, which represents 89 per cent of the total cases in Latin America, and 18 per cent of all infections recorded globally.

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Countries such as Brazil, Peru, Colombia and Ecuador all experienced severe outbreaks. For example, Brazil currently reports the third highest number of cumulative cases (18,855,015) and second highest death toll (526,892) globally.

“Open South America will facilitate orderly, regular and responsible migration in South America amid the uncertain times of COVID-19 and after the pandemic,” said Minister Ana Laura Cachaza, General Director of Consular Affairs of the Government of Argentina.

“Migrants’ access to up-to-date information through innovative online tools is essential considering the changing migration dynamic in the region due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Marcelo Pisani, IOM Regional Director for South America.

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29,000 Nigerians, Ghanaians, Somalians, other Africans migrated through the Mediterranean Sea to Europe in 2021 —IOM

The International Organisation for Migration has said that 29,000 individuals including Nigerians, Ghanaians, Somalians and other Africans have emigrated to Europe through the Mediterranean Sea this year.

About 13,000 were arrested by the coast guards and returned home while 761 migrants were said to have perished in the sea.

Disclosing this to journalists in Abuja on Friday, the Chief of Mission, IOM Nigeria, Mr Franz Celestin, said less than five per cent of migrants usually made it to Europe, adding that the vast majority stay in Africa.

He further said that a lot of migrants were trafficked within the Economic Community of West African States, adding that Mali was the number one destination point for trafficked Nigerian women.

Responding to questions on the number of people who have undertaken the perilous trip to Europe through the Mediterranean, the IOM Chief said, “A combination of unemployment and underemployment is pushing people to migrate.

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“In this year, 29,000 migrants from Sub-Sahara Africa have migrated to Europe through the Mediterranean. About 13,000 were intercepted by the coastguard while 761 died.”

International Organisation of Migration (

Celestin stressed the importance of tackling human trafficking which he said grossed about $150 billion annually.

“Traffickers make a lot of money and they would continue to do it until a coordinated response is evolved to stop them. We are collaborating with Interpol in this respect; we are connected to the Interpol i/247 database. We connected the MIDAS to the Interpol database where we pass the information on traffickers to the Interpol,” he stated.

Celestin explained that the IOM has been involved in the biometric registration of children in the North-East, noting that the agency has registered no fewer than 17,053 children in 18 different internally displaced person camps between 2019 and May 2021 in Borno State.

The agency chief also disclosed that IOM was involved in the G7 Famine Prevention and Humanitarian Compact for North-East.

READ  Nigerian medical student dies in Russia

 

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FG condemns killing of Nigerian footballer in UK

Kelvin

The Federal government has condemned the alleged killing of a Nigerian Footballer, Kelvin Igweani, by the UK police.

Recall that Igweani, a Nigerian Footballer, was shot dead by officers, who attended a call out to a house, where a child was found with serious injuries.

Reacting, Hon. Abike Dabiri-Erewa, Chairman/CEO, Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM), in Abuja on Wednesday described the incident as very unfortunate,and sad.

Dabiri-Erewa condoled with the family of the deceased and the Nigerian communities in the UK while praying that God grants rest to the soul of the departed.

“We call on the UK government for a thorough and proper investigation to be carried out on the incident,” the statement added.

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