Number of IDPs continues to rise as 100 families displaced in Al-Jawf
Published on 24 July 2014 in News
Ali Ibrahim Al-Moshki (author)
SANA’A, July 23—About 100 families were displaced in Al-Jawf governorate from Al-Ghail district to Al-Hazm district since the breakout of violence between the Houthis and tribesmen affiliated with the Islah Party. Their displacement adds to the half a million internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Yemen, as estimated by multiple relief agencies.
“Al-Hazm district struggles with a shortage of basic services such as electricity, water, health, and education. The arrival of the displaced [from Al-Ghail] has further increased the suffering of Al-Hazm residents,” Faisel Al-Aswad, a local journalist in Al-Jawf, told the Yemen Times.
He continued, “some of the displaced are housed in schools and others reside in relatives’ houses. They suffer from a shortage of food items. Many of the displaced peoples’ houses were shelled after the displacement. This will delay their return.”
The displaced in Al-Jawf are not alone in their suffering. Upwards of half a million people are currently displaced or have recently returned but into temporary housing.
According to the government’s Executive Unit for IDPs, between 2004 and April of this year about half a million people were displaced in Yemen. Alyas Mane, the field coordinator of disaster management at the Red Crescent, said this figure is in line with the statistic he has for that time period, pointing out that this figure does not take into account recent events in Amran.
Since June of 2013 to July of 2014, Amran saw a huge level of displacement after the outbreak of fighting between the Houthis and opposing tribesmen and some military units. Mane said last week that the number of IDPs from Amran has reached about 70,000, according to statistics by Red Crescent field teams, and this number has certainly risen.
The biggest source of IDPs is in the north, particularly Sa’ada, Amran, and Al-Jawf. Sa’ada governorate witnessed six rounds of fighting from 2004 to 2010 between the Houthis and government forces, which displaced hundreds of thousands, and fighting is ongoing in the other two governorates. Additionally, Abyan and Shabwa saw significant displacement because of the military campaigns against alleged AQAP militants in the south.
Saddam Al-Kamali, the media officer of the Executive Unit for IDPs, told the Yemen Times that many of those forced to flee their homes in Sa’ada as far back as 2004 have not returned. They are living in Haradh of Hajja governorate, Al-Azrqain of Amran, and Sana’a, according to Al-Kamali.
The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) also released IDP statistics in April, estimating there are 321,282 IDPs and 225,905 IDP Returnees. These numbers are in line with the figure released by the Executive Unit for IDPs, though there are differences in classification between IDPs who have “returned” and those who have returned but are living in temporary housing.
“Though 99 percent of the IDPs from Abyan returned home, they do not live in their houses because they were shelled and have not been reconstructed,” said Al-Kamali. Al-Kamali said that IDPs from Amran will return soon because the situation has calmed, and only a few houses were exposed to shelling.
In contrast, Al-Kamali said that many IDPs from Abyan lost their houses during the war between the military and Al-Qaeda in 2011 and 2012. Other clashes broke out between Al-Qaeda and the military in Abyan and Shabwa on April 2014 and left tens of thousands displaced.
“Most of the IDPs have returned to their areas but not to their destroyed houses and this is the biggest problem for them, although they do have shelters in their areas,” he added.
Several organizations, such as Islamic Relief, UNICEF, the Red Crescent, and the Red Cross work to assist the IDPs. However, the number of IDPs is increasing due to ongoing clashes in Yemen and it is difficult for the agencies to keep up.
Back in Al-Jawf, Jameel Al-Amos, one of the IDPs in Al-Hazm, told the Yemen Times, “we hope the clashes between the warring groups will end soon so that we can return home. We lack basic services. We lack water and food in Al-Hazm. We are also in need of heath services.”
“We provide food items for the IDPs of Sa’ada and we have a branch there in the governorate. International organizations are in charge of health and education and UNICEF has established several camps to provide education for the IDPs’ children,” said Al-Kamali.
Marie Claire Feghali, the spokesperson for the Red Cross in Yemen, told the Yemen Times, “we have several teams in all governorates where IDPs are positioned but we pay more attention now to Amran governorate to provide shelter and food items to the IDPs there.”
Journalist Al-Aswad said people in Al-Hazm are voicing their concern that they too will become displaced if the conflict spills into their territory.