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Yemen Death Toll Continues to Mount

  • Lisa Schlein

Smoke rises after a Saudi-led airstrike hit a site believed to be one of the largest weapons depots on the outskirts of Yemen's capital, Sana'a, May 22, 2015.

Smoke rises after a Saudi-led airstrike hit a site believed to be one of the largest weapons depots on the outskirts of Yemen's capital, Sana'a, May 22, 2015.

The death toll in Yemen continues to mount despite a recent five-day truce meant to allow urgently needed humanitarian aid to reach thousands of people trapped by the conflict, aid agencies reported Friday, with the latest estimates show civilians are being disproportionately affected by the fighting.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) said more than 2,000 people have been killed in Yemen, with about half those being civilians, according to the U.N. human rights office.

The U.N. agency reported at least 1,037 civilians were killed between March 26, when Saudi Arabia's airstrikes began, and May 20, shortly after the five-day humanitarian pause ended.

While the temporary truce offered some respite, U.N. human rights spokeswoman Cecile Pouilly said the fighting never completely ended and has resumed with increased violence, including airstrikes in Aden and other cities.

Prisoners affected, too

Pouilly said the situation of people in prisons and rehabilitation facilities is particularly dire and that many of these facilities have been affected by airstrikes or by armed clashes. She said more than 4,000 inmates have fled and several have been killed or injured.

“Conditions in correctional facilities, many of which were already poor prior to the current conflict, have deteriorated considerably," she said. "The general shortage of food and fuel means that prisoners lack means to sufficient food, electricity, water, proper sanitation facilities and necessary health care. There has been a reported outbreak of diseases like scabies and mycosis. Shortage of fuel has also meant that waste management has been severely affected.”

Pouilly said the ongoing conflict has prevented many inmates from receiving visits from lawyers or family members.

In the meantime, the IOM is launching a regional appeal for $84 million to assist people affected by the conflict in Yemen over the next six months, both within Yemen and in the region.

Vulnerable people

The appeal would include those who have fled to Djibouti and Somalia. IOM said the situation in Yemen has forced about 20,000 vulnerable people to flee to the Horn of Africa, including refugees from Somalia.

Besides the large death toll, the war in Yemen has injured more than 7,500 and newly displaced more than 550,000 other people.

An estimated 250,000 refugees and 1 million migrants, mostly Somalis and Ethiopians, currently are living in precarious conditions in camps and reception centers or are living in poverty in urban areas across Yemen.

Aid agencies are renewing a call for another cease-fire so they can import desperately needed aid and deliver emergency supplies to those in need. They also are urging all sides in the conflict to attend U.N.-mediated peace talks set to begin in Geneva next week.

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