UN aid chief arrives in Yemen to call for support for 150,000 displaced persons

8 October 2009
Some of the people forced to flee their homes in Yemen

The top United Nations humanitarian official arrived in Yemen today in a bid to garner support for some 150,000 people driven from their homes by an armed conflict between Government forces and a rebel militia that first erupted in 2004.

“Tens of thousands of people have been displaced by the latest wave of fighting in northern Yemen alone, and the number is growing daily,” said UN Emergency Relief Coordinator John Holmes at the start of a three-day mission to the country.

“I am here to see the situation for myself and galvanize support for the men, women and children whose lives have been overturned by this conflict,” added Mr. Holmes, who also heads the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

The $23.7-million Yemen ‘flash appeal’ to fund immediate, life-saving activities has only received 16 per cent of the amount requested more than a month after it was launched, with another $3.5 million pledged.

“The money is simply not coming in fast enough to meet the requirements,” said Mr. Holmes, urging donors to increase contributions. “The UN Central Emergency Response Fund [CERF] has already allocated over $7 million towards projects in Yemen this year and could do more but individual donors need to step up too.”

During his mission, Mr. Holmes will visit one of the five makeshift camps established to shelter internally displaced persons (IDPs), and meet with high-level Government representatives and humanitarian workers to explore ways to improve the emergency relief response.

Recent assessments in the IDP camps show that the most urgent needs are for shelter, food, water and sanitation. In addition, communities that have been hosting IDPs and residents who have lost access to basics such as water, food, and health care also require support.

As well as support from the international community for the emergency relief aid effort, Mr. Holmes called for improved access to IDPs to help the agencies overcome some of the intense challenges they face on the ground.


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