GENEVA - The U.N. refugee agency UNHCR reports an upsurge in violence in battle-scarred Yemen has sent more than 85,000 people fleeing for their lives in the past 10 weeks, adding to the already huge displacement that exists across the country.
More than two million people have become internally displaced in Yemen since March 2015. That is when a Saudi-led coalition began a bombing campaign against Houthi rebels in support of Yemen’s government.
The UNHCR is alarmed by the recent escalation of fighting that has uprooted tens of thousands of civilians since December 1. It says most of the new displacement is taking place in Yemen’s west coast cities of Al Hudaydah and Taizz.
UNHCR spokeswoman Cecile Pouilly says there is particular concern about the welfare of civilians who remain close to hostilities in these areas.
“As a result of prolonged fighting in those two governorates, conditions continue to deteriorate, exposing people to violence and disease, without access to basic services. Most of those displaced in the governorates of Al Hudaydah and Taizz remain hosted by relatives or friends, trapped inside homes or in caves as ground clashes, aerial bombardment and sniper fire rage around them,” Pouilly said.
Yemen, scene of the world’s largest humanitarian crisis, has more than 22 million people in need of humanitarian assistance. Aid agencies warn needs are increasing - fueled by the ongoing conflict, collapsing economy, lack of social services and livelihoods.
Pouilly said her agency is worried it will not have the money to help all those in need. She said UNHCR’s $200 million appeal for this year, so far, is only three percent funded.