U.N. aid agencies say they are very concerned about the deteriorating
humanitarian situation in Yemen because of increased fighting between
al-Houthi rebels and government forces in the mountains of northern
Yemen. The U.N. refugee agency reports about 35,000 people around
Sa'ada city have been displaced by the fighting in the past two weeks
aid agencies describe a chaotic scene of misery and desperation. They
say the area where the fighting is raging is remote and inaccessible.
They say the roads to Sa'ada governorate are blocked and there is no
access to the conflict zone by air.
They say many of those
fleeing are taking great risks and are paying smugglers to get out of
the area. The displaced are heading off in different directions in
search of safety. Several camps for displaced people have been set up
in Sa'ada city and other nearby governorates.
spokesman, Andrej Mahecic, says the UNHCR was part of a joint UN team
that has just concluded a joint mission to assess the situation.
staff found many families fled, abandoning homes or previous
displacement areas, to join refugees further south," he said. "They
need shelter, clean water and basic sanitation facilities. Yemeni
authorities informed UNHCR it plans to open a camp in the area to
accommodate arriving IDPs."
Mahecic says U.N. agencies plan
other assessment missions to areas of displacement. He says the UNHCR
was granted access to Hajjah governorate where it began distributing
relief assistance, including tents, plastic sheeting, blankets and
jerry cans to IDPs.
But, he says, distribution of aid to displaced people in Sa'ada has been suspended due to the fighting.
are appealing for a ceasefire, which would allow the civilian
population to escape the fighting and enable aid workers to resume
deliveries of humanitarian assistance," said Mahecic. "We are also
asking donor governments for an additional $5 million to be able to
respond to this latest emergency."
"These urgently needed
funds would allow UNHCR to organize coordination and management of the
camps, expand registration and protection of IDP's, and provide much
needed tents for shelter and other humanitarian assistance for the next
four months," he added.
The U.N. Children's Fund says the
current crisis is taking a terrible toll on children. It says
malnutrition rates are high. It says 46 percent of children under five
are underweight and 53 percent are suffering from stunting.
World Food Program says it provided high energy biscuits to 7,000
people last week and on Friday it began distributing a one-month ration
of cereals, pulses, vegetable oil, salt and sugar to 10,000 people.
But, WFP says it is short of cash and only has two more weeks of stock on hand.