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A community network gives hope to a displaced Yemeni

19 Feb 2020

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Millions of people including mostly women and children have been displaced by conflict in Yemen. Credit:?OCHA/ Suliman Al Moalemi

When air strikes targeted Haradh city, a pregnant Eaman* (30) moved with her two children back to Hodeidah city, where she had grown up.

That was almost five years ago. Eaman had moved to Haradh, in Hajjah Governorate, when she married her husband, Ahmed, * who owned a supermarket. They led a comfortable life in the early years of their marriage, until the conflict and the air strikes began.

In Hodeidah, Eaman initially moved in with her parents. Within a few months, air strikes destroyed Ahmed’s supermarket in Haradh. A traumatized Ahmed was hospitalized for 10 days, but it was the bloodshed that he had witnessed that broke him.

Ahmed joined Eaman in Hodeidah and the family rented a place to stay. Eaman sold her jewellery and Ahmed bought a motorbike and worked as a taxi driver. Still, the family struggled. They had barely enough money to live on, although friends and family helped, and the landlord was patient with the rent. Ahmed was suffering physically and mentally – riding the motorbike exacerbated an old injury and he became increasingly withdrawn.

The Protection Network, made up of community volunteers, linked Eaman with the Social Development Hodeidah Girls Foundation (SDHGF), a local NGO that runs the Protection Monitoring and Mixed Solutions project of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) at its centre for internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Hodeidah.?The Network’s members, many of whom are themselves displaced, help to identify people who truly need help.

Sewing machines provided by Social Development Hodeidah Girls Foundation (SDHGF). Credit: SDHGF

The project gave a one-off payment of 100,000 Yemeni rials (about US$180) to Eaman and provided Ahmed with psychological support. Under another SDHGF programme, supported by Oxfam, Eaman learned to sew and was given a sewing machine. Separately, the World Food Programme provided a monthly food basket to the family.

Though life continues to be hard, Eaman is thankful that she only lost material goods in the conflict, and not her family. She works hard to maintain a certain standard of living and keep her family safe, although she can only afford to send her eldest child to school. Remembering how people helped her, she now tries to give back, sharing her money and food and using the sewing machine to make clothes for people who cannot afford to pay. “Life is easier now,” she says. “Hodeidah Girls helped to give me hope.”

UNHCR’s Protection Monitoring and Mixed Solutions to IDPs and Conflict-Affected Individuals started in 2017 and is implemented by SDHGF. It aims to empower the IDP community by providing protection monitoring and other protection services.

In 2019, the project provided nearly 14,000 households with cash assistance; provided psychosocial and legal support to more than 3,438 people; obtained civil documentation for 1,326 individuals; provided 47,045 individuals with awareness-raising sessions on protection issues; and referred 11,732 people to other service providers.

Yemen remains the world’s largest humanitarian crisis.?

The Yemen Humanitarian Response Plan aims to help 20.1 million people, which would not be possible without the generous support of our donors. Urgent funding has enabled UN agencies to scale up its work in averting famine, supporting protection, and treating cholera, among other life-saving activities.

*Names have been changed to protect identities.