The humanitarian situation in Ma’rib continues to be of concern, and while there have been various waves of conflict, the situation has shown no sign of improving. People’s lives continue to be impacted every day by fighting and thousands are being displaced from their homes and from internally displaced persons (IDPs) sites. The hostilities, which have escalated at various points since January 2020, have displaced close to 21,000 households (HHs). Of these, at least 2,622 HHs (18,354 people) have been displaced since 08 February 2021 alone because of the intensified hostilities in parts of western, northern and southern Ma’rib1 . People, many of whom were already IDPs in these areas, have for the most part moved to Arak and more recently to Kasarah, both areas in Sirwah district.
Although there were no significant changes to frontlines in March, fighting has continued to impact civilian and displacement sites and drive humanitarian needs. Protection concerns have continued to increase, with civilians reportedly being injured from nearby fighting. Local authorities are coordinating the evacuation of four sites (Al Khair, Al Mil, Al Tawasul and Idat Al Ra IDP sites) in Sirwah district, moving at least 513 HHs to Al Suwaydah IDP site, also in Sirwah. While this is an attempt to keep people safe, service gaps in Al Suwaydah (which already hosted 1,163 HH) are wide, particularly when it comes to shelter, non-food items (NFI), water and sanitation services.
Across the board, the situation is extremely concerning. Continued fighting threatens to displace hundreds of thousands more people – at least 55,000 HHs according to humanitarian contingency plans – while also increasingly constraining humanitarian access. Local authorities and humanitarian partners, who were already grappling with stretched resources while responding to the needs of some 1 million IDPs across the governorate, are now challenged even more to meet the growing needs. Those affected by the crisis in Ma’rib are some of the most vulnerable, repeatedly loosing access to basic services and livelihoods. A political solution to the crisis is urgently needed to avert a humanitarian catastrophe.
The escalating conflict in parts of Ma’rib is forcing more people to flee their homes.
Since the start of February 2021, IOM and partners estimate that IDPs in Sirwah district have been most impacted by the renewed fighting. Of the 14 IDP sites in Sirwah, people have been forced to move from eight of them because of the proximity of fighting.
In February, newly displaced persons moved from IDP hosting sites in other parts of Sirwah – Al Zur, Dhanah Al Sawabin, and Danah Al Hayal sites – to Al Rawdah IDP hosting site. In the last week of March, local authorities have required the evacuation of four additional IDP hosting sites due to the proximity of fighting – relocating IDPs to Al Suwaydah IDP hosting site in Sirwah.
IDPs report fatigue and uncertainty over repeated movements, and they continue to be very concerned over their safety; it is unclear if Al Rawdah and Al Suwaydah IDP sites will continue to be safe for them. Meanwhile, IDPs access to basic services has become more constrained. Already, there were no site management and coordination actors in IDPs sites in Sirwah prior to the recent displacements, and service provision is inadequate. As Al Rawdah and Al Suwaydah IDP hosting sites double in size, IDPs are in immediate need of shelter, NFI, and food assistance. Partners are rallying to scale up services, working closely with authorities. IOM has been providing WASH support and is coordinating with partners on expanding site management and coordination support to the two sites.
Although smaller numbers of IDPs have been able to move into Ma’rib city and Ma’rib Al Wadi, the situation here is also challenging. The service gaps across informal and formal sites continue to be largely unmet, and local authorities and host communities are under immense pressure due to the increased needs here and in Sirwah.