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Making a living in Yemen

Yemen – Although Yemen is a signatory to the 1951 Refugee Convention, refugees do not have the legal right to work. Yemen’s Labour Code places numerous restrictions on the employment of foreigners, with no exception for refugees, and prohibits employment of foreigners who enter the country for reasons other than employment.

While few income-generation opportunities and micro-credit loans are offered by UNHCR and its partners, the vast majority of refugees work in the informal sector as car washers, housekeepers, fishermen and daily laborers on construction sites and qat farms.

Recently Yemen has taken important steps paving the way for the recognition of refugees’ right to work. The government registration of Somali refugees as well as the government issuing identity cards enhances the protection space for refugees in Yemen and has the potential to improve employment support for refugees.

In 2010 UNHCR signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Ministry of Technical Education and Vocational Training for the integration of 92 refugees every year for 5 years into long-term formal vocational training and technical education courses (2 to 4 years) in Yemen’s regions of Aden, Sana’a and Lahaj, on the same selection basis as Yemeni nationals.

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