A Yemeni humanitarian organization is the winner of this year’s UN refugee agency’s prestigious Nansen Refugee Award. The Jil Albena Association for Humanitarian Development has provided life-saving assistance to thousands of Yemeni civilians who have been forcibly displaced by conflict over the past five years.
Announcing the award, UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi praised the organization’s staff and volunteers for the courageous work they have done to bring lives to thousands of Yemen’s most destitute people in the midst of a raging conflict.
He said that he hoped that the award would shed light on the appalling condition of this country, which has been forgotten by the international community.
The United Nations has described Yemen as one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises. It reports that nearly 4 million people have fled their homes in search of safety, more than 5 million are on the brink of famine, and 80% of the country’s 29 million population is in need of humanitarian aid.
Amin Zubran, who founded Zeel Albena in 2017, has himself been displaced by fighting and nearly killed. He says the dangers and obstacles he and his family have experienced have inspired him to dedicate his life to helping others. He speaks through an interpreter from the Yemeni capital Sanaa.
“We in Jil Albena provide shelter for displaced people who have lost their homes. The materials we use are locally grown and are also woven by displaced persons and members of the host community. He provided skills and sources of income to those working on these shelter kits. We try to support the local markets as well,” Zubran said.
Jiel Albena is located in the Red Sea port city of Hudeidah. It has provided jobs and about 18,000 emergency shelters for internally displaced people in Hudeidah and Hajjah provinces.
The Nansen Prize comes with a cash prize of $150,000 donated by the Swiss and Norwegian governments. Zubran says he will use the money to implement projects to support community members and the displaced.
He says that a project will focus on skill training for women so that they can generate income and become self-reliant. He says a second project aims to train and provide fishermen with essential commodities so that they can restore their livelihood opportunities.
And finally, he says, Ziel Alben will give young people the technical training they need to find jobs, earn a living, and look forward to a viable future.