Yemen – JIPS – Joint IDP Profiling Service


Yemen has a long and complicated history of forced displacement and a continuing humanitarian crisis today. As of 2010, six rounds of increasingly violent conflict in Yemen’s Sa’ada governorate had displaced large numbers of people. Despite two peace agreements, many were still living in precarious situations. Little information was available, however, either on the IDPs’ plight or their prospects and intentions in terms of durable solutions.

JIPS provided technical support the same year for a profiling exercise that aimed to paint a comprehensive and agreed-upon picture of the internal displacement situation in northern Yemen to inform strategic planning. We also supported a second exercise in 2014, this time on the situation of Syrian refugees in urban areas, and continue to discuss with partners on support needs during the current crisis.

Project overview

Urban profiling of Syrian refugees in Yemen (2014 – 2015)
We received a request from CARE International in 2014 to support a profiling exercise of Syrian refugees in three urban areas (Sana’a, Aden and Taiz) of Yemen to be undertaken in collaboration with the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), the Danish Refugee Council (DRC) and the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

The main aim was to establish agreed-upon information on this population group, including their number, location, status and needs, to inform humanitarian programming and better target interventions.

Profiling process & JIPS’ support

We took part in the profiling partners’ discussions to shape the exercise, and then provided remote technical support for the development of the methodology and tools. These were piloted in Taiz in the last weeks of 2014, and we continued to provide remote support in 2015 to refine the tools before the full-scale exercise was undertaken in Sana’a, Aden and Taiz. Due to the security situation in the country, on-site support was not feasible and we invested our efforts into enhancing remote support availability and mechanisms instead.

More than 500 households were surveyed in the three cities using mobile phone technology, and key informant interviews were also conducted. We then supported the analysis and reporting phase of the exercise before publication of the final report that was delayed until December 2015 due to the volatile situation in country.

Impact & lessons learned

The report established useful data and analysis on Syrian refugees in the three cities covered, including their number and situations in terms of demographics, livelihood and coping strategies, housing and amenities, health, education and protection. It also set out a series of recommendations in each area. Covering a population about whom little was previously known, profiling results provided essential information to direct urban programming of the agencies involved.

Given the remote nature of our support, we were only able to provide technical support to this process but had very limited opportunities to invest in capacity building and coordination as would normally happen.

Project overview

Profiling for durable solutions in northern Yemen (2010)
Following a recommendation by the Special Rapporteur on the human rights of IDPs, a profiling exercise was launched in northern Yemen in early 2010 with the aim of painting a comprehensive picture of the displacement situation in Al Jawf, Amran, Hajjah, Sa’ada and Sana’a governorates to inform strategic planning and global monitoring.

The exercise was a protection cluster initiative, and the profiling partners included the Yemeni government, UNHCR, DRC, the European Commission Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection (ECHO), the Yemen Red Crescent and a number of NGOs. DRC was the implementing partner, and ECHO partially financed the exercise.

Profiling process & JIPS’ support

We provided technical support at all stages of the process, from establishing the scope and objectives of the exercise and developing the methodology and tools, to collecting and analysing the data and disseminating the results.

During a three-week mission to Yemen in mid-2010, we also provided three days of training for the project field coordinators, DRC staff and UNHCR focal points.

The methodology combined a comprehensive household survey conducted across the five governorates and a series of focus group discussions with both male and female participants. The sample was calculated using a stratified cluster sampling technique based on registered IDPs, lists of non-registered IDPs and dedicated enumeration. The IASC framework on durable solutions for IDPs inspired the design of data collection tools.

Impact & lessons learned

The final profiling report was published in December 2010, and its findings and recommendations informed the development of the Yemeni government’s durable solutions strategy. According to Walter Kälin, who served as the UN secretary general’s special representative for IDPs’ human rights from 2004 to 2010: “Profiling helped a lot to convince the government that an IDP strategy looking not only at actual assistance but also at durable solutions, was important. It also helped donors to come back and quite generously address the situation.” More specifically, the profiling results were useful in the following ways:

  • Based on the preferences and intentions expressed by the IDPs surveyed, the government’s strategy included consideration of local integration and settlement elsewhere as potential solutions rather than the previous exclusive focus on return. Khaled Fansa of UNHCR Yemen said: “Because we were not talking only about numbers, but about intentions with regards to durable solutions, the profiling was useful for future planning and will help us to respond to future needs.”
  • As a result of collaboration with a wide range of partners through the UN country team and protection cluster, the findings also fed directly into the consolidated appeals process (CAP) for Yemen.
  • The profiling information collected was also used for the planning and programming of humanitarian interventions, and for advocacy work with the Yemeni government.

The exercise also served as a reminder of a number of profiling lessons:

  • The timing of a profiling exercise should be considered in advance to feed into planned policy or funding initiatives, which helps to maximise the impact of the information collected.
  • The evidence base established by a profiling exercise is significantly enriched by methodologies that combine qualitative and quantitative data. The partners in Yemen conducted many more focus group discussions than initially planned because the information gathered proved to be invaluable.
  • Profiling exercises, particularly large-scale ones, benefit from a dedicated manager or management team, an investment that improves the quality of the exercise and the results it generates.
  • By engaging with communities affected by displacement, a profiling exercise reveals the range of short and long-term challenges IDPs face, a valuable resource for informing joint interventions by governments and their humanitarian and development partners.
  • Comparing findings across geographical locations is vital for targeted programming. The importance of disaggregating data by sex and age is widely recognised, but this exercise showed the importance of disaggregating by location as well.

Related News

Sign up to our newsletter

Email Format

JIPS – Joint IDP Profiling Service will use the information you provide on this form to send you email updates (usually once a month) about our activities.

You can change your mind at any time by clicking the unsubscribe link in the footer of any email you receive from us, or by contacting us at We will treat your information with respect and will never share it with, or sell it to, others. By clicking 'SUBSCRIBE', you agree that we may process your information in accordance with these terms.

We use Mailchimp as our marketing platform. By clicking 'SUBSCRIBE' to subscribe, you acknowledge that your information will be transferred to Mailchimp for processing. Learn more about Mailchimp's privacy practices here.

Get updates
Receive news about profiling practice and improving displacement data, right in your inbox.