Ongoing conflict in Yemen has caused one of the largest displacement crises in the world. Since the start of the conflict in 2015, around 4.5 million people have been forced to flee their homes.
Posted on 08 Nov 2022
Families who have already suffered through the trauma of conflict and displacement now face another risk as the growing impact of climate change across Yemen destroys homes and lives.
In Hajjah, northern Yemen, the Danish Refugee Council (DRC) is supporting displaced people affected by climate change, offering cash assistance to help meet the most urgent needs of those affected by recent floods.
Yusif, 33 years old - from Haradh district, Hajjah governorate, is married and has six children. He was forced to leave his home in Haradh due to the conflict. He left with his family and his wife’s family, including her visually impaired mother, her father and sister. Yusif remembers the day they were forced to flee:
“When we got displaced, we only took some of our clothes, important documents and a few mattresses, we even left our cattle back home. All we wanted was to survive!”
After leaving their home, Yusif traveled with his family to Afleh Al-Yamen,within Hajjah. But though they had escaped the conflict, they still struggled to find safe shelter: “It’s challenging to move from one place to another, and just adapt and settle. In Afleh Al-Yamen, some people we know gave us a house. It only had two rooms, and the construction was incomplete, but it was better than living in the camps."
During the 2022 rainy season, Yemen experienced two weather extremes, swinging from a severe drought to intense flooding. According to FAO, rainfall in July was nearly 300 per cent above normal, making the second half of the season the wettest in nearly 40 years. These conditions persisted throughout much of August with the country experiencing the impact of the heavy rains and devastating floods. By the end of August, an estimated 51,000 families (more than 300,000 people) —
People spread the news of four family members dying because of heavy winds with rain, which included a woman and a child because they lived in a valley and the floods were very close to them, it was a catastrophic situation!
/ Yousef, 33 years old - from Haradh district, Hajjah governorate
Yousef and his family were also affected by extreme weather, after the house he was living in was badly damaged by the heavy rain. Heavy rain and strong winds were entering the house from the many cracks in the wall. Yousef adds “We experienced a lot of fear during that time. Whenever the heavy winds with rain were slamming our home, and we felt that it could take off the camps near us. People spread the news of four family members dying because of that, which includes a woman and a child, because they lived in a valley and the floods were very close to them, it was a catastrophic situation!”
The change of weather and the rise of cold weather due to the rain also have negative health impacts, particulary for children. After Yousef’s house was damaged, they struggled to keep warm. Without money to buy proper warm clothes or bedding, they were forced to use empty rice or flour sacks to cover themselves and warm up. Yousef sighs and says:
“The remaining sacks of the food aid that we got was the only way and alternative for blankets to stay warm.”
“When my children get ill, I help them if I have money, and if there’s no money, I borrow from our neighbors to buy the necessary medicines for them. But sometimes, when there is no money at all, I have to leave them without any medicines to recover by themselves.”
Thanks to funding from the European Union, DRC teams were able to distribute financial aid to the affected communities from the recent floods. Cash assistance is a quick and effective way of deliverying emergency assistance, allowing those affected to buy the emergency supplies they need, helping them to live in dignity and safety. Together with the support from DRC and other INGOs, and with their savings, Yousef was able to repair the family’s damaged shelter and buy the food they needed.
“We are very grateful for the help was provided by DRC, it supported us in the most difficult circumstances. After repairing the room, life has become much better, because the floods doesn’t get into the room at it was previously happening.”