Yemen: Covid-19 scapegoating triggers fresh displacement

Doctor treating a patient in a health centre in Aden City, Yemen Doctor treating a patient in a health centre in Aden City, Yemen IOM/Rami Ibrahim

21 July 2020

Migrations agencies are worried as Covid-19 aggravates displacement in war-torn Yemen, United Nations Humanitarians reported on 21 July

More than 10,000 people have been interviewed by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) from March to July 18. They have cited  “fear of infection and the impact of the outbreak on services and the economy” as their reason for leaving hotspots of Coronavirus. “A woman named Salam in Aden told our staff about people selling their mattresses, blankets and children’s clothing in order to meet their basic needs”, IOM spokesperson Paul Dillon told journalists in Geneva. “Displaced women who used to work as maids are forced to beg in the streets because potential employers are afraid they’re carrying the virus.” 

Some displaced individuals are moving from Aden and Lahj to areas within the same governorates that are less affected by the outbreak. Mr Dillon also shared concern regarding the false narratives being spread around Covid-19 in Yemen. He said:  “False information that’s been circulated in different areas about the virus and the emerging and very clear examples, of xenophobia and xenophobic attacks being directed at displaced people.”

According to the data released by IOM’s Data Tracking Matrix, more than 100,000 people have been forced to flee due to insecurity and fighting since January. Despite the reported numbers of Covid-19 infections by the government remain considerably low, it is widely believed that actual numbers are much higher. The reason attributed to this is limited testing capacity available in Yemen.

Mr Dillon also mentioned that half of the health facilities in Yemen have either been closed or damaged since the escalation of violence in 2015, between the forces of President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi - supported by a Saudi-led international coalition – and mainly Houthi militia, which also have international support, for control of the Arab nation.


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Author: Saumya Bhardwaj

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