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UNHCR worried about refugees and displaced people in strife-torn Yemen


UNHCR worried about refugees and displaced people in strife-torn Yemen

The escalating violence has killed two Somali refugees and displaced thousands of refugees and Yemenis alike.
3 June 2011
Internally displaced people from northern Yemen are among those affected by the current clashes in the country.

GENEVA, June 3 (UNHCR) - Two refugees are among those killed in recent clashes in Yemen that have displaced thousands of Yemenis and refugees alike. The UN refugee agency has expressed alarm at the deteriorating situation, which is affecting its ability to help these vulnerable groups.

"In Al-Hasaba, north of [Yemen's capital] Sana'a city, two Somali refugees were killed in the fighting last week," said UNHCR spokesman Adrian Edwards at a news briefing in Geneva on Friday. "They were a 14-year-old boy and a young woman who had fled the violence in Somalia to seek refuge in Yemen."

The escalating violence between security forces and armed tribesmen has forced dozens of refugee families to flee Al-Hasaba for the surrounding areas. Where possible, they are staying with relatives or friends. Those with no support network could be offered other shelter possibilities. For example, the non-governmental organization, Interaction in Development Foundation (IDF), is considering renting a building to provide temporary accommodation. UNHCR and its partners are supporting the refugees' relocation by offering emergency funds, water and relief supplies. Some 150 refugee families have so far received emergency assistance.

The clashes in Al-Hasaba are also affecting Yemenis already displaced by years of conflict in Sa'ada in the north. Among these internally displaced people (IDPs) living in Al-Hasaba, more than 80 families have fled the current fighting and returned to Sa'ada city and the surrounding areas. UNHCR has managed to locate 43 IDP families and is providing aid in the form of shelter and basic supplies.

In Yemen, the UN refugee agency cares for nearly 200,000 refugees and over 300,000 internally displaced Yemenis from the north. "The escalating conflict is affecting UNHCR's ability to protect and assist these vulnerable people," warned Edwards.

Meanwhile, an estimated 20,000 new IDPs have emerged in southern Yemen as people flee the fighting between government forces and militiamen in Abyan governorate's Zunjubar city.

"Hundreds of Yemeni families have fled the city of Zunjubar to the surrounding areas," said Edwards. "The majority of IDPs are being hosted in small villages near Zunjubar."

He added that UNHCR is working with its partners and local authorities to help 982 IDP families hosted in seven schools in Aden city to the west. Aid agencies are also working with the local authorities to assess the situation and provide urgent assistance to these newly displaced people.