16 September 2009 – A senior United Nations official today appealed to the international community to bolster its support to assist 150,000 people uprooted by conflict in Yemen, a humanitarian crisis that he said has largely gone unnoticed and could worsen.
“Despite the deep vulnerability of the tens of thousands people who have fled from conflict in northern Yemen, this humanitarian emergency has been largely neglected by the entire international community outside of Yemen, and also by the media,” Rashid Khalikov said as he briefed humanitarian personnel in Sana’a at the end of his four-day visit.
Mr. Khalikov, the Director of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), stressed that more must be done to highlight the needs of the men, women and children whose lives have been disrupted by recent events.
The UN estimates that the latest round of fighting between Government forces and rebels has brought the total number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) to 150,000, the majority of whom are women and children.
“The United Nations, partner agencies and local authorities are making every effort to provide the necessary assistance in very challenging circumstances,” Mr. Khalikov said.
“However, as this conflict continues and needs grow, the capacity for response is becoming overwhelmed. The international community must bolster its support for humanitarian actors to prevent this crisis from becoming a catastrophe.”
During his visit, Mr. Khalikov visited Al Mazrak camp in Hajjah governorate, one of five camps established for IDPs, where approximately 2,000 people are taking shelter. Among the most urgent needs of the displaced are food, water and sanitation, shelter and health care.
The majority of the IDPs are living outside the camps and reaching them has been difficult since many of them are scattered across open land or living with host families. In addition, thousands more are trapped in the conflict areas, making it harder for aid agencies to access them.
“We have little information about the numbers, needs or living conditions of thousands of civilians who are still in conflict areas,” Mr. Khalikov said. “We call for all sides to ensure the protection of civilians in line with international humanitarian law, and allow us to reach those who require assistance.”
According to OCHA, the $23.7 humanitarian appeal issued on 2 September to respond to the current crisis still has not received any funding.
spotted by RS