New York, NY, July 5, 2018 — The U.S. Administration announced today that it will extend but not re-designate Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Yemen. While a relief for approximately 1,200 Yemeni TPS holders, placing an arbitrary date on eligibility could ultimately result in the forcible return of an estimated 400 Yemeni citizens arriving after January 4, 2017, who would have been eligible for this protected status, back to an active war zone and the largest humanitarian crisis in the world.
“The situation here in Yemen remains dire,” said IRC Yemen Country Director Frank McManus. “To risk sending Yemenis back to an active war zone where the majority of the population lacks adequate food, clean water and basic health services would put innocent lives in immediate danger. Yemen is the largest humanitarian crisis in the world, and IRC staff on the ground see the suffering of Yemenis, especially women and children, every day. Deliberately subjecting more innocent lives to endure the conditions they would face in Yemen is unjustifiable and Un-American.”
Yemen is home to the largest humanitarian crisis in the world, directly caused by warring parties who continually act with complete disregard to international law and human life. The Yemeni crisis has affected 22 million people and drove over 3 million from their homes; and has led to the largest outbreak of cholera in history, which has killed thousands. Yemenis are the most food insecure population in the world, with an estimated 17 million people, or 60 percent of the total population, are food insecure, and 8 million are on the brink of starvation.
The IRC has been monitoring and providing humanitarian aid in Yemen since 2012. The IRC in Yemen has provided essential services to conflict-affected populations; and, since 2015, has rapidly and dramatically scaled up our response, delivering health services to 10,000 people each week, to the current crises caused by the conflict, food insecurity, and the world’s largest cholera outbreak.
The IRC has been closely monitoring protection rollbacks in the United States. This TPS decision to arbitrarily extend protections to some Yemenis but not to others comes two weeks after an IRC Report found a steep 70% drop in refugee admissions, although IRC’s poll of Americans found nearly 60% believe the U.S. has a moral obligation to help refugees. Since October 1, 2017, the US has accepted zero refugees from Yemen. The IRC is likewise monitoring the criminalization of credible asylum claims at the U.S. border, troubling detention of vulnerable children, and sweeping regulation being considered that would likely stop most Central Americans from winning asylum in the US.
The decision not to use TPS as a critical tool to protect all Yemenis from return back to harm begs the question of whether there is any at-risk population the Administration would protect. The IRC urges the Administration to ensure that all Yemenis have access to protection and to reconsider its decision and re-designate TPS for Yemen. We continue to call on Congress to enact a permanent solution for those who are left behind by this and previous TPS decisions.
The International Rescue Committee responds to the world’s worst humanitarian crises, helping to restore health, safety, education, economic wellbeing, and power to people devastated by conflict and disaster. Founded in 1933 at the call of Albert Einstein, the IRC is at work in over 40 countries and 28 offices across the U.S. helping people to survive, reclaim control of their future, and strengthen their communities. Learn more at www.rescue.org and follow the IRC on Twitter & Facebook.