The U.N. refugee agency reports a first convoy of aid has reached conflict-ridden northern Yemen from Saudi Arabia. The UNHCR says fighting between Yemen government troops and al-Houthi forces shows no sign of abating.
The U.N. refugee agency says the first cross-border convoy of aid from Saudi Arabia to northern Yemen arrived on Sunday. And, the distribution of the non-food relief items is to be distributed Tuesday to about 2,000 people stranded close to Yemen's border with Saudi Arabia.
UNHCR spokesman Andrej Mahecic says the people will receive tents, mattresses, blankets, plastic sheeting, jerry cans and hygiene items.
"This assistance arrives in addition to the Yemeni government's food and aid convoy also arriving in the area," he said. "The arrival of UNHCR's aid would not have been possible without the close collaboration between us and the two governments concerned."
"According to a recent government assessment, there are between 3,000 and 4,000 displaced people in the border area, most of them in need of assistance and in a desperate situation after fleeing from the northern districts of Saada province. We are planning to send another aid convoy to reach those in need," he added.
Since fighting resumed in August tens of thousands of civilians caught in the crossfire have fled their homes in Saada to the surrounding provinces.
Mahecic says the humanitarian situation continues to worsen as street battles continue.
"Many shops and stores have now run out of basic commodities and supplies," he said. "Electricity is available only from 6:00 pm (1800 UT) to midnight and access to the only remaining functioning market is now blocked. Water supplies are available just twice a week. UNHCR's local partner continues to register internally displaced people in the city of Saada, despite the surrounding conflict."
The UNHCR reports an estimated 150,000 Yemenis have been affected by the fighting in the north since 2004, including those displaced by the latest escalation.
Several weeks ago, the United Nations appealed for nearly $24 million to support its emergency operations in Yemen. Only 16 percent of the appeal has been met, leaving a shortfall of about $20 million.