Source: UNHCR press release, 13/11/2012
80,000 IDPs Returned to Abyan:Increased International Support for Sustainable Returns Urgently Needed
Aden, Yemen: Resolving the problems of the nearly 500,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Yemen is essential to promoting stability in the country.
In recent months, developments in Abyan have opened up an important opportunity for some 200,000 IDPs to return to their homes and begin to rebuild their lives. Since July, more than 80,000 IDPs have done so, with additional returns ongoing.
“IDPs are eager to return to their homes and significant numbers of returns have been happening,” said Naveed Hussain, UNHCR’s Representative in Yemen, while visiting IDPs in a school in the Crater district in Aden on 11 November.
Most of the schools that had provided shelter for several thousand IDPs since May 2011 have been freed up from serving as IDP collective centres, enabling students to resume education in their normal classroom setting.
Over 93% of the IDPs who had been living in 78 schools (including two public buildings) in Aden have returned; of some 25,000 persons living in schools in Aden, some 23,500 have returned and only around 1,500 still remain. In Lahj Governorate, 100% of the schools have been vacated by the IDPs following their return to Abyan.
The relatively few IDPs remaining in the Aden schools, who have not yet exercised their right to return due to security or other concerns, will be relocated into eight buildings (one in each district of Aden).
UNHCR, with the agreement of the government, is rehabilitating these eight buildings to serve as temporary IDPs accommodation that meets basic minimum shelter standards.
For IDPs who have exercised their right to return to their home, UNHCR, together with the humanitarian agencies and the government, is providing them with assistance to begin rebuilding their lives.
UNHCR is also the lead international agency responding to IDPs’ and returnees’ need for shelter.
To date, UNHCR has distributed shelter repair kits to some 32,000 persons and non-food items (NFI) packages including mattresses, blankets, and kitchen sets to some 33,000 persons.
UNHCR plans to help a total of some 180,000 persons in Abyan with shelter and NFI kits.
Much more must be done to support the sustainability of voluntary IDP returns. Many challenges remain, including: widespread damage to property and infrastructure (in some areas, 95% destruction of property and infrastructure) and still a fragile security situation in the areas of return.
The challenge now is to support the sustainability of IDPs’ return so that the significant achievements to date are not reversed. "UNHCR will continue playing a leading role to helping find durable solutions for IDPs,” said Mr. Hussain. “To achieve this, increased support from the international community is needed urgently.”