UNHCR delivers emergency aid to 1,000 families in the centre of Taizz city

This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Andreas Needham, UNHCR Spokesperson to whom quoted text may be attributed at the press briefing, on 16 February 2016, at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

UNHCR delivered blankets, mattresses, and other emergency relief assistance for 1,000 conflict-affected families on 14 February in the embattled enclave of the city centre of Taizz. This is the first time UNHCR has been able to access the city after more than five months of trying to bring in much needed aid. With the support of local aid organisations, UNHCR conducted the distribution in three locations in the city: Al Qahirah, Salh and Al Mudhaffar districts.

Some of the most intense fighting in the ongoing conflict in Yemen, now in its tenth month, has been centred in Taizz city where more than 200,000 people are cutoff from regular access to humanitarian aid. UNHCR had been negotiating with the parties for over three weeks in this most recent effort to bring in trucks with essential supplies. This assistance comes in the immediate wake of the recent delivery by other humanitarian actors of food aid and medical supplies into Taizz city. UNHCR Representative Johannes Van Der Klaauw, led the mission to oversee the distribution and witnessed the critical need for the supplies UNHCR is providing. He noted that this first distribution of domestic relief items should be a prelude for sustained access and delivery of various types of aid into the city and surrounding districts in the governorate. He also reiterated UNHCR's call for sustained and unhindered access to humanitarian responses.

Displacement figures continue to rise in Taizz governorate, which now hosts the highest number of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in the country. At approximately 400,000 this accounts for 16 % of the current total of 2.5 million IDPs. Although this week is the first time that UNHCR aid has reached the locked-down enclave in the centre of Taizz city, UNHCR has been distributing emergency relief assistance to various districts in the governorate since June 2015, when UNHCR succeeded in distributing relief items to nearly 1,800 individuals in four districts of Taizz governorate (Maqbanah, Ash Shamayatayn, Dimnat Kadir and Ta'iziyah) through a national partner. Several attempts to reach areas in Taizz city in September failed. Since December, UNHCR and its partner have distributed humanitarian aid to around 29,000 IDPs in five districts in Taizz governorate (Dimnat Khadir, Al Ma'afer, Al Mawasit, At Ta'iziyah, and Jabal Habashy).

As of 15 February, UNHCR has reached some 346,500 IDPs and conflict-affected persons in 20 of the 21 governorates in Yemen with emergency relief assistance such as blankets, sleeping mats, plastic buckets, plastic sheeting, kitchen sets, tents, and emergency shelter kits (comprising wooden poles and planks, plastic sheeting, and tools such as hammer, axe, rope and nails).

The humanitarian situation in Yemen remains critical, with an estimated 21.2 million people (82 per cent of the population), in need of some kind of humanitarian assistance, and the conflict continues to force families to flee their homes across 21 of the 22 Yemeni Governorates.

UNHCR's recently launched Yemen Situation Emergency Response for those displaced inside Yemen and those forced to flee to neighbouring countries is currently just 5% funded at $8.6M with a funding gap of $163.6M for the required $172.2M. UNHCR's response inside Yemen is 7% funded. The response in Djibouti is 1% funded while no funding has been received for the responses in Ethiopia, Somalia and Sudan. The revised 2016 Yemen Humanitarian Response Plan will be launched by the Humanitarian Coordinator for Yemen in Geneva later this week.

For more information on this topic, please contact:

  • UNHCR Yemen, Teddy Leposky, +962 798660268 (Amman)
  • Andy Needham, Geneva on mobile +41 217 3140