250,000 civilians uprooted in Yemen since 2004

January 30th, 2010 - 5:41 am ICT by IANS  

Geneva, Jan 30 (IANS) An estimated 250,000 civilians have been uprooted since clashes in Yemen erupted in 2004, with the number having more than doubled since just last August, WAM news agency reported citing the UN refugee agency.
The humanitarian crisis in Yemen continues to deepen, and in the past six weeks, some 7,000 people have streamed into Hajjah province each week from Sa’ada province in the north, which has been rocked by renewed violence between government forces and Al Houthi rebels, Andrej Mahecic, spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) told reporters here Friday.

The fighting has moved from Sa’ada city and its surroundings towards the northwest of the country, Mahecic said, adding that people fleeing their homes in recent weeks have mostly been from the Razeh, Ghamr and Saqayn districts.

“Another push factor is the collapse of coping mechanisms - people simply cannot sustain themselves any longer in Sa’ada province,” he noted.

Although the three existing camps for internally displaced persons (IDPs) in neighbouring Hajjah governorate are continuously being expanded, UNHCR is worried about the lack of adequate shelter, as many of the uprooted are living in makeshift sites, which have mushroomed along the roads leading to the camps.

The agency and its partners are providing tents to displaced families living in host communities to increase living space within housing compounds and is also working to set up a transit centre pending the identification of a suitable campsite.

“The Yemeni government, UNHCR and other aid agencies are distributing aid, but making ends meet is getting increasingly difficult for the displaced populations as well as access to basic services such as health and education,” Mahecic stressed.

Most of the IDPs have left nearly all of their belongings behind, including cattle - the pillar of their livelihoods and main source of income.

The fighting has also increased the number of IDPs seeking refuge in Yemen’s capital, Sana’a, to 12,000.

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