A Yemeni humanitarian organization is this year’s winner of the U.N. refugee agency’s prestigious Nansen Refugee Award. The Jeel Albena Association for Humanitarian Development has provided life-saving assistance over the past five years to tens of thousands of Yemeni civilians forcibly displaced by conflict. 

In announcing the award, U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi praised the courageous work of the organization’s staff and volunteers for providing a lifeline to thousands of Yemen’s most destitute people amid a raging conflict.  

He said he hoped the award would put the spotlight on this country’s catastrophic situation, which has been all but forgotten by the international community.  

The United Nations calls Yemen one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises. It reports nearly four million people have fled their homes in search of safety, more than five million people are on the brink of famine, and 80% of the country’s population of 29 million needs humanitarian aid. 

Ameen Jubran who founded Jeel 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 devote his life to helping others in need. He speaks through an interpreter from the Yemeni capital, Sana’a. 

“We in Jeel Albena provide shelters for displaced people who have lost their homes. The materials that we use are locally grown and they are also woven by displaced individuals and members of the host community as well. They provided skills and sources of income to those who work on these shelter kits. We also try to support the local markets,” Jubran said.

Jeel Albena is based in the Red Sea port city of Hudaydah. It has provided jobs and around 18,000 emergency shelters for internally displaced people in the provinces of Hudaydah and Hajjah.  

The Nansen award comes with a cash prize of $150,000 donated by the Swiss and Norwegian governments. Jubran says he will use the money to implement projects to support members of the community and the displaced. 

He says one project will focus on skills training for women so they can generate income and become self-reliant. A second project, he says, aims to train and provide fishermen with essential items so they can restore their livelihood opportunities.  

And lastly, he says Jeel Alben will give young people technical training they need to get jobs, earn a living, and look forward to a viable future. 

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