Since January 2020, fighting in Ma’rib, Al Jawf and Sana’a governorates has led to mass displacement, forcing more than 20,057 families (140,399 people) to flee from areas close to frontlines, mostly towards Ma’rib city, Marib Al Wadi and surrounding districts. More than a year later, the situation has once again escalated with renewed fighting across parts of western, northern and southern Ma’rib displacing more people mainly into Sirwah, Ma’rib city and Ma’rib Al Wadi districts.
Local communities and internally displaced persons (IDPs) continue to be impacted the most by the recent escalation of hostilities in parts of Ma’rib. As reported previously, people in Sirwah district have been impacted by the heavy fighting. At least 1,152 households (8,603 individuals) have been forced to flee in the past two weeks alone. Sirwah District hosts more than 4,300 displaced families and at least 14 displacement sites, and many of those fleeing were already displaced before the situation deteriorated again. A majority of new arrivals (840 HHs) have moved from Sirwah Sub-district to safer areas in Arak Sub-district (Al Rawdah Sirwah IDP hosting site). Intention surveys carried out with a group of arriving IDPs in this location indicate major concerns over the security situation and intentions to move to other areas in Sirwah District – Al Minsah and Al Dushoush Sub-districts (closer to Ma’rib city) should the fighting come to their area. Some IDPs have, however, also expressed fatigue with repeated displacement, as most of them are being displayed for the third time or more. Ma’rib city (273 HHs) and Ma’rib Al Wadi (39 HHs) Districts also continue to receive new arrivals from Sirwah and other districts, as the conflict situation remains unstable and frontlines fluid.
There are several IDP hosting sites in close proximity to frontlines in Sirwah and already, there have been reports of three sites being impacted by the fighting. With continued fighting, people are expected to continue to flee towards the eastern outskirts of Sirwah and into Ma’rib city, where IDP sites are already crowded and response capacities are overstretched. According to local officials, Ma’rib city hosts around 3 million people, including the largest displacement site (37,498 IDP residents) in the country, and the escalating conflict threatens to have catastrophic consequences on the humanitarian situation. Should hostilities move towards the city and surrounding areas, it could displace another 385,000 people outside of the city and into Hadramawt, while limiting humanitarian access and placing significant strains on the already limited resources. IOM and partners are scaling up assessment and contingency planning efforts, and IOM is joining the humanitarian community in calling for an urgent de-escalation of hostilities.
IOM has a team of 16 international and 90 national support and programme staff in Ma’rib as well as nearly 200 community mobilizers and enumerators. The team is leading response activities, prioritizing critical needs assessments and registering newly arrived IDPs for assistance through the Rapid Response Mechanism. Together with local authorities, the Organization is coordinating response efforts in Ma’rib through its leadership of the CCCM and Health sub-national clusters, co-leadership of the WASH sub-national cluster, Ma’rib-based focal point of the protection cluster, and as S-NFI Contingency Pipeline Manager. With very few partners responding in Ma’rib, there are significant concerns about the response’s capacity to meet the rising needs. IOM joins the humanitarian community in calling for an urgent deescalation of hostilities and for humanitarian partners to immediately scale up interventions to respond to the dire situation.