Last Updated: Friday, 22 September 2017, 11:21 GMT

U.S. Committee for Refugees World Refugee Survey 2002 - Yemen

Publisher United States Committee for Refugees and Immigrants
Publication Date 10 June 2002
Cite as United States Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, U.S. Committee for Refugees World Refugee Survey 2002 - Yemen , 10 June 2002, available at: [accessed 23 September 2017]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

At year's end, Yemen hosted about 69,500 refugees, the overwhelming majority Somalis (67,485), followed by Ethiopians (1,480), Iraqis (200), Palestinians (123), and small numbers of refugees from Eritrea, Sudan, and elsewhere. Some 5,000 Sudanese and 2,000 Iraqis not registered with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) also lived in Yemen during 2001.

Refugee Status Determinations

Yemen is the only country on the Arabian Peninsula to have signed the UN Refugee Convention and Protocol. Although Yemen had no domestic asylum or refugee laws in 2001, the government permitted UNHCR to conduct status determinations.

During the year, some 2,322 asylum seekers registered with UNHCR, including 1,330 Ethiopians, 448 Iraqis, 249 Palestinians, 129 Sudanese, and 166 persons from other countries. Although comprehensive data on UNHCR status determinations were not available for 2001, the agency reported that it recognized 230 refugees in individual status determinations during the year, including 123 Iraqis, 45 Palestinians, 33 Ethiopians, and 29 refugees of other nationalities.

UNHCR assisted 168 refugees with resettlement to third countries in 2001, including 71 Somalis, 37 Sudanese, 35 Iraqis, and 18 Ethiopians.

Refugees from Somalia

UNHCR registered 11,070 Somali asylum seekers in Yemen during 2001, some of whom arrived during the year and others who arrived in past years but only registered in 2001. Those who reached Yemen during the year crossed the Gulf of Aden in often-perilous journeys that reportedly cost several hundred refugees their lives when their makeshift boats sank. In May, more than 80 Somali asylum seekers drowned when smugglers forced them to jump overboard after the boat's engine stalled. The boat capsized soon thereafter. Fishing boats rescued about 75 passengers.

Unlike asylum seekers from other countries who received individual status determinations, UNHCR granted prima facie refugee status to Somalis unless the agency determined that individual protection concerns necessitated their resettlement.

During the first half of 2001, UNHCR provided basic assistance, including food, shelter, medical care, schooling, and job training to about 13,000 Somalis at the Al-Gahin camp, located about 87 miles (140 km) east of Aden. In June, UNHCR relocated the refugees to the newly constructed al-Kaharaz camp in the Lahaj governorate. Children reportedly receive schooling and adults may attend vocational training in al-Kaharaz.

Most Somalis, however, lived in urban centers, such as Sana'a, Aden, and Ta'iz. Most had reportedly integrated into urban areas and were no longer receiving food or financial assistance in 2001. They were eligible for partial assistance, however, including medical treatment at UNHCR clinics in Aden and Sana'a, and small income-generating loans for refugee women.

According to UNHCR, 527 Somali refugees voluntarily repatriated in 2001.

Other Refugees

Although little information was available on other refugee groups living in Yemen during 2001, many of the 1,480 registered Ethiopian refugees reportedly were living alongside Somalis in the al-Kaharaz camp. UNHCR recorded only 18 voluntary repatriations of Ethiopians during the year.

Information is also scanty regarding Iraqi refugees in Yemen. In addition to the 200 registered Iraqis, UNHCR continued to monitor the situation of another 2,000 Iraqis who had not registered refugee claims, but were believed to be living in refugee-like circumstances in the country.

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