Yemen: UN relief official alarmed as renewed clashes displace thousands in country’s north

Displaced people in al-Hamraa camp for IDPs in Amran Province, Yemen (September 2009). Photo: Adel Yahya/IRIN

9 July 2014 – The United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator in Yemen has voiced alarm at the recent escalation of violence in Amran Governorate which has displaced thousands of families in the past few days.

“I am deeply worried about the safety and welfare of civilians caught up in the conflict,” Johannes Van Der Klaauw said in a statement issued yesterday in the capital, Sana'a.

“All parties to the conflict have a responsibility to make sure that civilians are spared from the fighting and that those who are affected by conflict are able to move to more secure areas.”

There are reports of more than 200 civilians, including women and children, having been killed, and thousands of people are reportedly trapped inside the conflict zone in Amran City, unable to flee the fighting, according to the statement.

The latest escalation follows a ceasefire that came into force in Amran Governorate on 4 June after several days of heavy fighting between Government forces and Al Houthi militants in areas surrounding Amran City.

Mr. Van Der Klaauw said that reports of the seizure of humanitarian assets and the targeting of civilian infrastructure, including schools and hospitals, are “very upsetting,” adding that there is no excuse for direct attacks on civilian infrastructure or on humanitarian assets.

Humanitarian partners are providing life-saving services, including food, water and sanitation, shelter and emergency healthcare in accessible areas, he stated. However, humanitarian access is constrained by ongoing fighting, roadblocks and other restrictions.

“I call on all parties to facilitate aid agencies’ access to civilians, and to protect and respect humanitarian activities, workers, and property at all times to ensure that aid can reach vulnerable people who are in desperate need of assistance.”

The Humanitarian Coordinator said he is seeking dialogue with the parties to the conflict to ensure rapid and unimpeded humanitarian access to people in need.

He also fully supported the statement made by the Secretary General’s Special Advisor to Yemen, Jamal Benomar, urging the parties to observe the ceasefire, find a peaceful resolution to their grievances, and allow delivery of assistance to all populations in need.

Nearly 15 million people in Yemen – over half the population – are in need of some form of humanitarian aid this year. The UN and its partners have launched a $592 million response plan that remains woefully underfunded.


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