DISPLACEMENT FROM SIRWAH DISTRICT
The conflict in Ma’rib has continued to be a major driver of displacement in Yemen and the humanitarian situation remains of serious concern. Since the first major offensive in January 2020, the conflict has forced more than 21,000 households (HHs) out of their homes or displacement sites. Of these, at least 1,532 HHs (11,000 people) have been displaced since 08 February 2021 because of the intensified hostilities in parts of western, northern and southern Ma’rib , mainly moving closer to Arak in Sirwah (983 HHs), with smaller numbers into Ma’rib city (482 HHs) and Ma’rib Al Wadi (63 HHs) districts.
So far in March, there have been no major changes on frontlines, and conflict activities have continued to be concentrated in parts of Sirwah. With frontlines, however, remaining active, local populations and IDPs have continued to bear the brunt of hostilities, seeing their homes destroyed, fleeing their communities and displacement sites, and facing uncertainties over their safety. Almost all new IDPs are being displaced for the second or third time, having moved from three of the largest displacement sites in Sirwah (Al Zur, Dhanah Al Sawabin and Danah Al Hayal sites) to another in Arak, Sirwah (Al Rawdah IDP site).
Prior to the recent developments, Al Rawdah Sirwah IDP site hosted an estimated 677 HH in a large, flat rocky area between two mountain ranges near Ma’rib Dam —today the camp population is nearly three times that size. The influx has strained the existing resources, with many of the current population finding it difficult to share their few resources with new arrivals. With new arrivals having been IDPs before, many arrived with little to nothing and are sharing shelters and resources with the IDPs in Al Rawdah now hosting them. Although IOM teams are seeing reduced flow of new arrivals in March, the situation for the pre-existing and new IDPs in the area remains difficult. Compounding the difficulties IDPs are facing are the concerns for their safety and uncertainty over whether fighting will force them to move again, further into Ma’rib city.
The situation requires humanitarian partners to urgently scale up response activities. Already, Ma’rib Governorate hosts an estimated one million internally displaced persons (IDPs) – the largest IDP population in Yemen. IDPs are living in approximately 125 IDP sites across the governorate, one of which is the largest IDP site in the country: Al Jufainah Camp, hosting 10,000 IDP HHs in Ma’rib city. Over the course of the conflict since January 2020, a majority of IDPs have moved into Ma’rib city (70%) and the burden on resources in the district – which was home to only 40,000 people in 2014 – has been overwhelming. Across all sites and sectors, service gaps are widespread. In 2020, IOM and partners estimated that 19 IDP hosting sites or informal settlements opened. With continued fighting, the situation is expected to continue to worsen and service gaps are expected to widen as people continue to flee towards the eastern outskirts of Sirwah and into Ma’rib City. Humanitarian partners are operationalizing plans to respond if 15,000 HHs (105,000 people) are displaced over the next six months into Ma’rib City, Al Wadi and smaller numbers to Shabwah and Hadramawt. Should fighting escalate even further into Ma’rib city, IOM and partners estimate that 385,000 people will be displaced further in Hadramawt and Shabwah. The most significant challenge is the limited partner presence and insufficient resources to sustain response and preparedness activities.