Humanitarian crisis worsens in north Yemen fighting, UN reports

A young girl from Harf Sufyan waits as tents are put up near Khaiwan, Yemen

23 September 2009 – The humanitarian crisis in northern Yemen, where 150,000 people have been driven from their homes by fighting between Government and rebel forces, continues to worsen, with the lack of drinking water posing a particularly serious concern, the United Nations reported today.

Given the very limited access to people affected by the conflict and the geographical spread of the internally displaced persons (IDPs) in all four affected northern governorates, it has been very difficult to assess the full scope of displacement and provide sufficient relief, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said.

“Food rations have been pre-positioned at strategic points throughout northern Yemen and are sufficient to provide 60,000 beneficiaries with a monthly ration,” it added in its latest update. “In the hot weather conditions, the current lack of potable water is particularly a serious concern.”

The $23.7 million Flash Appeal that was launched three weeks ago has still not received any funding, although some pledges have been recorded.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is procuring emergency shelter items for 35,000 IDPs, including 7,000 tents, 5,000 plastic sheets, 250 plastic rolls, 21,000 mattresses, 36,000 blankets and 5,000 kitchen sets.

Since 12 September, a window of access has allowed Islamic Relief Yemen, the main partner of the UN World Food Programme (WFP) in the region, to start the second cycle of food distributions in Hajjah governorate and by 16 September some 12,800 people had benefited from 188 metric tons of food.

New families arrived in Hajjah from Sa’ada governorate on hearing that aid was being provided. These families have been added to the distribution lists.

The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) will triple water distribution in the IDP camp in Sa’ada, but additional funding is needed to construct separate toilets and washing facilities for men and women and ensure adequate water and sanitation services.

The UN World Health Organization (WHO) has received surgical supplies from the Italian Government for 400 major surgical operations, as well as medical supplies for 20,000 IDPs for three months and diarrhoeal disease treatment for 1,500 victims of severe to moderate dehydration.

While some international non-governmental organizations (NGOs) were denied access to IDPs in Al-Jawf governorate, the Ministry of Health/WHO mobile teams managed to continue delivery of essential health care services to displaced persons in the area.


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