Laila Mohamed Abdulrab coordinates UNHCR’s Community Based Protection Unit in Sana’a, Yemen. She works to protect the most vulnerable displaced people, including unaccompanied children.

What is the most challenging part of your job?

Witnessing children suffer because of the instability in Yemen, which has made it harder to deliver much-needed services.

What services does UNHCR provide for children and families in Yemen?

UNHCR’s family centres offer a safe space for children to be children in a city where there is conflict and grinding poverty. They are a lifeline for poor and vulnerable parents, enabling them to earn a living without having to worry about their children being left at home alone. In the past year more than 1,400 refugee and local children attended these family centres in Sana’a.

Other services include counselling, cash assistance, disability services, foster care arrangements, and support for survivors of sexual and gender-based violence.

"Our interventions can save lives." Laila.

Laila Mohamed Abdulrab coordinates community protection services for UNHCR in Sana’a, Yemen. © UNHCR/ S. Mantoo

Laila helps to protect Yemen’s many displaced children. © UNHCR/ S. Mantoo

How else is UNHCR making an impact?

Our interventions can change children’s lives. Many were saved from a life of begging, abuse or exploitation. Child protection teams took them off the streets and provided them with a safe place to stay, enrolled them in family centres and began regularly checking on them.

What is the most rewarding part of your job?

When I see my work positively impacting lives. One boy in particular, I will never forget. Hasan was 14 years old when I met him and he was living on his own.

He fled his home in Somalia and was smuggled to Saudi Arabia, then he made his way to Yemen. I met him in Sana’a. He came for counselling often and shared details of his life as a refugee child alone in Yemen. Once he began to trust me, he confided that he would once again put himself at risk of exploitation to leave Yemen.

I warned Hasan of the dangers of being smuggled again, and helped him understand that he was cared for and loved. He listened to my words and decided not to travel. Hasan continues to attend counselling, knowing that there is always a friendly face to welcome him.

What made you want to become a humanitarian worker with UNHCR?

With UNHCR, I am able to make a difference in the lives of others and put smiles on children’s faces, and I am truly happy to be doing it. Being part of UNHCR staff, working with refugees, has taught me to appreciate and realise the value of what I have, to be less judgmental, more patient, and most importantly, more grateful.

Australia for UNHCR supporters generously donated $1.05 million to the Children Alone campaign earlier this year.

Thanks to your support, UNHCR has frontline staff in place to identify unaccompanied children as soon as they arrive at camps, provide them with child-friendly accommodation and access to education and counselling, and wherever possible reunite them with loved ones using family tracing services. This work would not be possible without the help of our donors.

Thank you!

UNHCR supports family centres in Yemen that provide children with a safe space to play and learn.  © UNHCR/ S. Mantoo

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