Where Are Yemen Refugees Going?

Key Takeaways:

  • The most common destinations for Yemeni refugees are the Netherlands, Germany, and the UK.
  • Jordan and Canada have been successful destinations with many positive asylum decisions.
  • The US has received smaller numbers of Yemeni refugees compared to Europe.
  • Neighboring Djibouti has received over 37,000 Yemeni refugees.
  • Yemen itself hosts refugees from Somalia and Ethiopia.
  • Accurate and current data is lacking but reports provide insights into destinations.


The ongoing civil war and humanitarian crisis in Yemen have driven millions of Yemenis to flee their homes and country in search of safety and survival. With no end in sight to the devastating conflict, displaced Yemenis face continued instability and violence that prevent their safe return.

Where have these Yemeni refugees and asylum seekers ended up? What countries are providing them sanctuary and the chance to rebuild their lives? Reliable and up-to-date data on the diaspora of Yemeni refugees can be difficult to obtain. However, reports from aid agencies and news sources provide some insights into where Yemenis are fleeing and the factors impacting their destination decisions.

This article will comprehensively evaluate the key destination countries for Yemeni refugees and asylum seekers since the conflict began. It analyzes relevant data and policy environments to assess which nations have been the most accommodating for displaced Yemenis. The information presented will help readers understand the complex dynamics and limited options facing Yemeni refugees. Gaining this valuable perspective allows deeper appreciation of their plight and the humanitarian efforts required to assist them.

Key Destinations for Yemeni Refugees

Has Europe Been the Primary Destination for Yemenis Fleeing War?

Europe has emerged as the most common destination region for Yemenis forced to flee abroad. Within Europe, certain countries stand out as particularly prominent destinations due to refugee policies, established Yemeni communities, and proximity to the Middle East.

The Netherlands

The Netherlands has received the largest number of Yemeni asylum applications in Europe according to data from Eurostat. Between 2015-2021, the Netherlands received over 14,500 asylum applicants from Yemen.

The Dutch government has also granted protected status to many Yemenis, with over 9,100 given refugee status and another 3,400 provided subsidiary protection over the 2015-2020 period according to the UNHCR.


Germany has been the second most favored European destination country for Yemeni asylum seekers. From 2015-2021, Germany received over 14,000 asylum applications from Yemeni nationals according to Eurostat.

By the end of 2020, Germany had granted full refugee status to over 5,600 Yemenis and subsidiary protection to an additional 8,500 Yemenis per UNHCR data.

The United Kingdom

The UK has also been a major destination, receiving the 3rd highest number of Yemeni asylum applicants in Europe from 2015-2021 at over 8,600. Refugee organizations have noted the UK’s Yemeni refugee policies have been restrictive compared to other European countries.

Have Any Middle Eastern or North African Countries Taken in Yemeni Refugees?


Jordan has hosted a sizable population of Yemeni refugees and become an increasingly viable destination. Since 2015, Jordan has received over 20,000 Yemeni asylum seekers according to data from UNHCR.

Notably, Jordan has had a high refugee status recognition rate for Yemeni asylum cases. From 2018 to 2020, Jordan granted refugee status to 6,563 Yemeni asylum seekers while only rejecting 1,049 cases.


Djibouti, located just across the Gulf of Aden from Yemen, has also received a major influx of refugees from the conflict. An estimated 37,500 Yemenis have sought refuge in Djibouti according to UNHCR – the largest concentration of Yemeni refugees in any single country outside of Yemen itself.

How Has North America Handled Yemeni Refugees?


Canada has emerged as a sanctuary for many Yemeni refugees fleeing war and persecution. According to government data, from 2015 to 2018, Canada resettled over 2,000 Yemeni refugees through its humanitarian programs.

The Canadian government also reports high acceptance rates for Yemeni asylum seekers within Canada. In 2021, Canada accepted 90.5% of asylum claims filed by citizens from Yemen.

United States

The United States has taken in substantially fewer Yemeni refugees compared to top European and Middle Eastern destination countries.

According to the U.S. Department of State, in fiscal year 2022 only 33 Yemeni nationals were granted asylum in the United States out of only 48 who applied. Overall Yemeni refugee arrivals have accounted for less than 0.1% of the US refugee intake since 2002.

Restrictive refugee policies under the Trump administration led to a dramatic 99% drop in Yemeni refugee arrivals to the US. The Biden administration has slowly increased approvals but totals remain relatively low.

Has Yemen Taken in Refugees from Other Countries?

While Yemen has produced a massive refugee diaspora since 2015, it has also continued to host refugees itself – predominantly from Somalia and Ethiopia.

Despite its own instability, Yemen remains an important first asylum country in the region. As of August 2022, the UNHCR reported Yemen hosted approximately 137,000 registered refugees and asylum seekers, mostly from Somalia (92%) and Ethiopia (8%).

The complex mix of refugee flows underscores Yemen’s dire situation. Even while Yemenis flee to other nations, individuals from troubled countries like Somalia and Ethiopia still view unstable Yemen as a place of refuge.

Challenges in Tracking and Reporting Data on Yemeni Refugees

Obtaining comprehensive and current data on where Yemeni refugees have fled can be difficult for several reasons:

  • The ongoing conflict creates major internal displacement within Yemen that is challenging to track.
  • Refugees often initially flee to neighboring countries before attempting higher-risk passages to Europe or North America.
  • Data lags – reported numbers may reflect past, not current, trends.
  • Destination countries vary in refugee data collection, reporting frequency and transparency.

These data challenges underscore the need for improved information sharing and coordination among refugee agencies and national governments. More accurate data will allow better understanding of refugee population sizes, destinations, and needs.

Despite the data gaps, existing reports and statistics from entities like UNHCR, EuroStat and national governments can still provide valuable insights into the diaspora of the Yemeni refugee population since 2015. The data limitations do not undermine the conclusion that Yemenis have most often fled to Europe, especially the Netherlands, Germany and the UK.

Role of UNHCR and Other Aid Agencies

The United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) has played a crucial role in responding to Yemen’s refugee crisis and assisting displaced Yemenis.

Inside Yemen, the UNHCR reports it has provided emergency assistance and protection to over 4 million displaced Yemenis forced to flee internally since 2015.

For Yemenis who have managed to escape abroad, the UNHCR helps provide legal and social aid in destination countries to support asylum cases and resettlement.

The UNHCR also coordinates with governments across the region to strengthen asylum systems and refugee policies. Beyond the UNHCR, other humanitarian groups like the International Rescue Committee (IRC) have established operations targeting displaced Yemenis.

Despite these efforts, aid agencies have faced massive strains attempting to address refugee needs stemming from Yemen’s prolonged conflict. Continued international support and funding will be essential.


Yemen’s complex and tragic civil war has triggered an enormous refugee crisis spanning the Middle East, Europe, and beyond. Accurately tracking data on the millions of displaced Yemenis remains challenging. But available information indicates most Yemeni asylum seekers and refugees have fled to nations like the Netherlands, Germany, Jordan, and Djibouti.

Northern European countries, praised for progressive refugee policies, have attracted the largest numbers but hosted only a fraction of the total externally displaced Yemeni population. Yemeni refugees need greater international assistance and more viable asylum options nearer to their home region. Obtaining more data on displaced Yemeni movements and characteristics will support a more effective and compassionate global response.


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