As fighting resumes in Yemen, UN agency renews call for aid corridor

22 September 2009

The United Nations refugee agency today renewed its appeal to allow humanitarian aid to reach civilians displaced and stranded by fighting in northern Yemen, where clashes renewed over the weekend despite an announced two-week suspension of military operations.

“This is the second failed ceasefire in less than a month,” Andrej Mahecic, spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), told reporters in Geneva.

He said the relative calm that was reported in the city of Sa'ada at the end of last week was shattered over the weekend as clashes erupted between Government forces and Al Houthi rebels.

UN officials have repeatedly called for the establishment of humanitarian corridors for the delivery of much-needed aid to the 150,000 uprooted by the latest round of fighting that began on 12 August.

Mr. Mahecic reiterated that a corridor to Sa'ada remains a top priority for UNHCR as its stocks in the city are diminishing.

In neighbouring provinces, the agency is assisting internally displaced persons (IDPs) both inside and outside the camps.

According to UNHCR, every day new families arrive in the Al Mazraq camp in Hajjah province, which is now sheltering some 5,000 IDPs. “Some walk for days before reaching the site. People in the camp are struggling to survive daily hardships as well as brutal weather,” said Mr. Mahecic.

In addition, heavy rain damaged more than 50 tents at the camp over the weekend, leaving hundreds of families without shelter. A team from UNHCR has rushed to repair or replace tents.

Mr. Mahecic said that pending finalization of the layout of the newly identified camp site in Khaiwan in Amran province, UNHCR and its partners continue to register IDPs outside the camp, especially those who sought shelter in schools and with host families.

It is also distributing aid to some 2,100 IDPs registered in the cities of Amran and Khamir.


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