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Photostory: The First 72 Hours

Two children walking in front of a straw hut

Displaced children walk across an internally displaced people settlement in Abyan Governorate, where women and children make up 75 percent of the displaced population in Yemen.

Displaced children walk across an internally displaced people settlement in Abyan Governorate, where women and children make up 75 percent of the displaced population in Yemen.

Displaced people in Abyan reminisce about their journey in search of safety

The humanitarian situation in Yemen has led to considerable suffering across the country, with an estimated 21.6 million people requiring humanitarian assistance and protection services. The eight-year-long conflict in the country has exacerbated high-risk coping mechanisms and stalled development gains made in the years preceding. Yemen’s humanitarian crisis has been further deepened due to the prolonged nature of the conflict and the significant internal displacement movement across the country. Since 2015, nearly 4.5 million Yemeni people – 14 percent of the population – have been displaced. Women and children make up 75 percent of the displaced population in Yemen. This leaves the war-ravaged country with the sixth-largest internal displacement crisis in the world.

A woman in a black head covering holding a pot and a bucket with a small girl holding a baby beside her

Internal displacement triggered by the ongoing conflict and natural disasters such as seasonal floods, forces Yemeni families to flee their homes suddenly, leaving all their belongings behind and running with only what they have on themselves. Uprooted households often face difficulties in the new area they settle in, due to a lack of proper shelters, harsh weather conditions, shortage of food supplies, and poor water and sanitation conditions. And in the context of widespread economic deterioration and limited access to essential services, the scarcity of resources, infrastructure, and livelihood opportunities exhaust the resilience of the displaced population and the communities hosting them.

A group of men walking on a dirt road

The Rapid Response Mechanism (RRM) led by the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) provides urgent lifesaving assistance to vulnerable people forced to flee their homes. Through this mechanism, CARE helps internally displaced people (IDPs) in Abyan Governorate with immediate, most critical lifesaving emergency packages. Within the first 72 hours of displacement, newly displaced families receive standard relief packages, including ready-to-eat food, basic hygiene materials, and a female transit kit. Later, the displaced families are referred by CARE to other relevant key actors based on assessments of their vulnerability so they can receive additional food and cash assistance.

A woman with a black head covering

Sahar Abdo who is 38 years old, fled from Hodeidah Governorate in 2022 with her family of eight. The family escaped the security unrest in their hometown and settled in Abyan Governorate. “Imagine losing everything you collected your entire life in one day,” says Sahar. “Suddenly, your life becomes unpredictable and scary. My husband suffers from a disability, and we could barely make it to the IDP camp in Abyan. Receiving food and hygiene items in our first days here was bliss because we were exhausted, hungry, and had no money.”

A man cutting fish in a tent

“When I arrived with my family at the IDP camp in Abyan, I felt helpless and terrified because I knew no one here and my children were starving after the long trip from Hodeidah to Abyan,” says Mohammed Saleh, a 27-year-old displaced father of three children.

“CARE staff immediately came and registered my data. I was relieved when they provided us with food. My wife was grateful we received soap, detergents, towels, and womenswear in the aid package,” he adds.

Mohammed misses his home, farm, and neighbors in his hometown. He works selling fish so he can provide for his family. “I long to return to my home. Displacement life is difficult. I try to work hard to buy food for my children, hoping that I’ll be able to send them to school too,” he says.

A woman in a black dress

Aisha Hassan, a 36-year-old mother of four children, is among those who received RRM kits a couple of days after arriving at the IDP camp in Abyan. Reminiscing about her old life in the Hays area of Hodeidah Governorate, Aisha says:

“One year after my marriage, I gave birth to my first child. My husband’s income was low, so I decided to work and help him. I worked as a teacher in the morning, and in the afternoon, I used to sew clothes for my neighbors and relatives. Our life was quiet and stable back then. We arrived at the camp empty-handed. And the response team gave us a helping hand just in time. The items in the kits provide instant relief to displaced families that have endured so much in their search for safety.”

A man standing in front of a shop filled with food and other items

“Urgent assistance is important for newly displaced families in order to bridge the gap between the hard displacement journey and adapting to the new situation,” says 44-year-old Ayash Daoud, a displaced father of five children. “I remember how the food items secured three meals for my children until I could find a job with a daily wage on a nearby farm. All displaced families extremely appreciate the instant relief these items provide.”

A collage of pictures featuring people in tents and a man selling food and other items at an outdoor market.

One year after displacement, Sahar, Mohammed, Aisha, and Ayash struggle to rebuild their resilience. Both Sahar and Ayash sell simple grocery items in small kiosks, while Mohammed continues to sell fish to provide for his family. Aisha started to teach and sew for residents in areas neighboring the camp. The rapid response to the new arrivals of displaced families is critical to ease their urgent suffering of displacement. Although it provides instant relief to displaced families that have endured so much, more sustainable solutions must be found. All the displaced families hope the war will end and they return to their hometowns, jobs, families, and peaceful lives.

The rapid response mechanism (RRM) is an emergency response modality for providing timely aid to vulnerable people on the move, in hard-to-reach areas, or stranded close to the front lines, including women and children displaced by insecurities and natural disasters.  This response offers assistance packages of emergency supplies, such as food and hygiene items, to families within 24 to 72 hours of displacement to address their immediate needs.

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