UN to reopen aid office in key city in Yemen’s conflict-hit north

26 March 2010

United Nations aid agencies in Yemen are have been granted permission to reopen offices in the main city in the conflict-affected north of the country, a move expected to improve humanitarian access to hundreds of thousands of people who have been displaced as a result of the conflict.

The offices were closed in August last year after fighting escalated in the city of Sa'ada.

The Yemeni Government gave the green light to reopen the offices following a high-level mission of UN agencies and international NGOs to Sa’ada on Wednesday. The mission was accompanied by two senior Government officials who work on relief issues and the needs of internally displaced persons (IDPs).

During the mission, the local authorities requested additional assistance to deal with the consequences of displacement and to facilitate the return of IDPs to their homes.

“There is an urgent need for humanitarian relief in Sa’ada,” said Aboudou K. Adjibadé, acting UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Yemen. “Our paramount concern at this time is securing unhindered and immediate access to the affected people. We therefore welcome the fact that we can now re-establish a UN office in Sa’ada, but we continue to call for access to the entire Sa’ada governorate,” he said.

Fighting between armed groups and Government forces has in the past cut off large areas of Sa’ada from humanitarian assistance, but a ceasefire announced on 11 February paved the way for increased access.

“Sa’ada is one of the governorates hardest hit by the sixth round of fighting. Our tribute and thanks go especially to humanitarian workers who continued to provide assistance to thousands of people during the war and saved hundreds of life,” said Gian Carlo Cirri, UN World Food Programme (WFP) representative, who led the mission.

Access is also needed for other areas in Sa’ada and the governorates of Al-Jawf and Amran. Insecurity and landmines have hampered or delayed distribution of humanitarian aid in parts of these governorates.

Some 250,000 IDPs are receiving assistance across five conflict-affected governorates: Hajjah, Amran, Sa’ada, Al-Jawf and Sana’a. Approximately 10 percent are living in camps, while the remaining 90 per cent are hosted in local communities or scattered in various locations.

Funding to the humanitarian operation remains a source of great concern. Of the $177 million requested for humanitarian aid in Yemen this year, only 20 per cent ($35 million) has been received. Several UN agencies have had to resort to internal borrowing from other aid programmes to maintain life-saving activities in Yemen.

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