Picking Up the Pieces: What Yemenis need to rebuild their lives in a country torn apart by conflict | Yemen | Oxfam

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Since March 2015, more than three million Yemenis have fled their homes, displaced by ongoing conflict. Many have been displaced for months or more than a year
  OXFAM BRIEFING PAPER SEPTEMBER 2016 Marriam travels from Sabir Mount to the city centre to sell bread as most of the city’s bakeries have closed. She is the sole provider for her grandchildren. Photo credit: Abdulnasser Al-Sedek/ Oxfam PICKING UP THE PIECES What Yemenis need to rebuild their lives in a country torn apart by conflict Over three million Yemenis have fled their homes because of ongoing conflict. Many are unable to return. Facing unemployment, mounting debt and high food prices, they are running out of ways to survive. Men are joining armed groups; girls are increasingly forced into marriage, while crime and social unrest are on the rise. As hope for successful peace talks fades, life for millions of Yemenis is deteriorating fast – undermining the chances of securing peace. www.oxfam.org   SUMMARY ‘Nobody can know what it feels like to be a displaced person, except those who were forced to leave their homes in search of safety.’     – Jamal, a father of two young children who resides with his family in a small tent in a camp in Al-Quba village, Taiz governorate. When Oxfam spoke to more than 1000 people living in the midst of Yemen’s conflict, almost everyone wanted the very basics every human being desires – to live in peace, at home, with an income that meets the needs of their family. But 18 months of war has created a country in crisis. The economy has been shattered, with one in four companies now closed and 70 percent of the workforce laid off. 1  Violent clashes and deadly air strikes have killed and injured thousands of men, women and children and forced over three million people from their homes. Half the population does not have enough food to eat. In some areas, the delivery of food has been deliberately obstructed. All sides in the conflict have committed violations of international humanitarian law (IHL) – including parties being armed by influential Western governments. Close to one in five people Oxfam spoke to said their homes had been destroyed, and two-thirds had been displaced for ten months or longer.  Almost two-thirds of the people Oxfam spoke with said that close family members had died or had been injured as a result of the conflict, and nearly half the families were looking after unaccompanied children. 2  For those who try to return home, many find unexploded ordinance and destroyed schools, factories and health centres. Many told Oxfam they had no prospect of going home. Individual interviews and focus group discussions revealed a sense that the country was heading for collapse. The majority of respondents said criminality had increased, and violence against and exploitation of women were on the rise. People are living in overcrowded accommodation, forced into debt and poorly paid work in order to survive. Some try to make a living by selling fuel on black markets, gathering plastic waste to sell, or selling firewood or qat   (a mild herbal stimulant popular in Yemen).  As hope for successful and inclusive peace talks fades, the situation on the ground is getting worse. The loss of income sources and rampant inflation is eroding what little money host communities and those displaced have maintained to survive. Children and young men have been coerced into joining armed groups; tensions between communities and within families are growing and girls are forced into early marriage. A  journalist from Amran told Oxfam that when the family does not have enough food, fathers will often force their daughters into marriage. However, there are some reasons for hope. Driven by the severe pressures of conflict, women are increasingly seeking out opportunities to earn a living, with some men supportive of their ambition. In many places, markets are still functioning for families with cash. 2  While Oxfam has reached almost 900,000 people with aid since the start of the crisis, much more needs to be done to meet basic daily needs, and ensure people’s safety and protection in an accountable way. Communities that are hosting displaced people need aid as much as those that have fled and all must be consulted and participate in the delivery of assistance to ensure it reaches families in need (including socially marginalized groups). Beyond that, people urgently need support to get back to work, earn an income and build their self-reliance. Even when the conflict truly ends, it will take years for the country to pick up the pieces. By starting now, we can improve lives in the short and medium term and reduce the impact of a perpetual crisis foisted on Yemen and its people. The following recommendations outline how Yemeni, regional, international and humanitarian actors can support these efforts.  Yemen’s government and appointed Supreme Political Council at all levels should: ã  Implement and abide by an immediate and comprehensive nationwide ceasefire, which includes support for airstrikes and ground fighting; ã  Issue public directives to security personnel, functionaries and associated armed groups that forbid interference and coercion of aid recipients and deliverers; ã  Protect women, men, boys and girls from all forms of abuse and gender-based violence by developing and committing to standards that can be monitored by inclusive, locally-led protection committees in coordination with the established De-escalation and Coordination Committee; 3   ã  Consult with displaced people, returnees and host communities and respond to their requests in order to support them in maintaining safety and building livelihoods. The Saudi-led coalition and Western governments should: ã  Implement and abide by an immediate and comprehensive nationwide ceasefire; ã  Stop fuelling the conflict and violations of IHL by suspending the supply of weapons to all parties and abide by their legal obligations under the Arms Trade Treaty; ã  Enable expansion of cash transfer schemes to ensure people can meet their basic needs and establish sustainable livelihoods; ã  Provide increased resources for immediate livelihood assistance for displaced people and returnees, including resources for local women’s groups and support for women’s employment through skills and training; ã  Fund clearance of unexploded ordinance and mined areas, support public awareness schemes about the dangers from these weapons and provide compensation to victims; 3  ã  Donors should press Yemeni state and non-state actors to protect displaced people and aid workers throughout the country, and make funding conditional on providing protection. UN and humanitarian agencies should: ã  Rapidly scale up the response with the adequate human and financial resources to deliver immediate livelihood assistance where possible and deploy staff to deliver increased protection services and strengthened accountability to local people; ã  Ensure that the needs of both displaced people and host communities are considered in shaping future projects in order to promote long-term stability and prevent new outbreaks of conflict; ã  Establish clear mechanisms for the genuine participation of communities in the delivery of humanitarian assistance at district and village levels. Strategies should be designed with community engagement at the centre. Special attention should be given to ensuring meaningful participation of women and marginalized groups. 4
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