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Yemen: UNHCR extremely concerned about conflict escalation

Briefing notes

Yemen: UNHCR extremely concerned about conflict escalation

10 November 2009 Also available in:

UNHCR is extremely concerned about the recent escalation of the conflict in northern Yemen and its impact on civilian population. We again appeal for the protection of civilians and secure and unhindered access for humanitarian workers to deliver much needed assistance.

Displaced families from embattled Sa'ada governorate continue to arrive to Al Mazrak camp in Hajja governorate where the past two days have seen a significant increase in the number of arrivals. On average, 130 to 140 families arrived to Al Mazrak camp both on Saturday and Sunday and another 80 families yesterday -- in total some 2,000 people.

Elderly people, single mothers and children represent the majority of new arrivals. Most of them are coming from Khuba area where they had taken refuge after having fled the fighting of Sa'ada Governorate. This means it is their second or third displacement. The Al Mazrak camp, now hosting some 8,700 Internally Displaced People (IDPs), has been reorganized and extended to accommodate the new arrivals. Another 11,000 IDPs are sheltered by host families and communities in this part of Yemen.

This weekend we airlifted a shipment of emergency relief items from UNHCR's central emergency stockpile in Dubai. The IL-76 aircraft landed in the Yemeni capital of Sana'a on Saturday carrying large tents and prefabricated warehouses that will improve the delivery of aid and services to the people in need. The tents will allow IDP community centres to be set up in various locations - including a centre for women in Al Mazrak camp. The prefabricated warehouses will enhance UNHCR storage and capacity distribution in the operation.

Meanwhile, our office in Riyadh was informed yesterday by the Saudi authorities that the situation at the Alp border is stable, allowing UNHCR to continue its cross-border activities. We are hopeful that we will receive the security clearances from the Saudi authorities for the next aid convoy in the coming days. UNHCR's assistance will complement the Yemeni government's food and aid also arriving in the area.

We now estimate some 175,000 people have been affected by the conflict since 2004, including those displaced by the latest fighting. They are now living in the newly established Haradh and Al Mazrak camps and in urban and rural areas of Hajjah, Amran, Al Jawf and Sana'a governorates, as well as in government camps in Baqim.