On-the-record update on situation in Hajjah and Hodeidah, Yemen
Quote from 30-year-old Fatima who was recently displaced from Bani Hassan, area of Abs District, in Hajjah Governorate:
"An air strike hit a hotel next to our home. I fled out of fear with my family of 8 because there was nowhere safe anymore. We walked for two hours, without shoes under the blazing sun and suffered from dehydration. We had to carry old people and children on our backs. My nephew who was 6 months old died two days after we got to Abs. This is our second displacement. The first one was in 2015 from Haradh to Bani Hassan when the war started. But we did not suffer like this time. We've sold everything. Nothing is left."
Quote from Mohamed Abdi, NRC's country director in Yemen:
"We remain extremely concerned for people inside Bani Hassan, and those trapped in areas with heavy fighting who are unable to flee to safety or get help. Those who have managed to flee to safer areas arrive terrified and exhausted. Many tell us that they have been displaced time and time again with the fighting following them in to different areas. Whilst warring parties pay lip service to implementing the Hodeidah ceasefire and Stockholm agreement, they continue to wage war on many fronts and civilians pay the heaviest price for their actions.
Powerful governments funding and fuelling the war need to help bring it to an end otherwise they are just as accountable as those carrying weapons on the frontlines."
While a fragile ceasefire in the port city Hodeidah is still in place, the fighting has intensified in other parts of the country, particularly in Hajjah, north of Hodeidah.
The recent fighting has forced nearly 100,000 people in the Bani Hassan area of Abs district to flee their homes in just two weeks. NRC's team on the ground in Hajjah report ongoing shelling and air strikes. Many villages in Bani Hassan now lie empty.
This new wave of large scale forced displacement follows a fierce bout of fighting that displaced up to 50,000 people from the Kushar District in February and March.
People are telling NRC that they are scared that the conflict will reach them once again. The active frontlines are now just a few kilometres from Abs District's main water source, which serves 200,000 people. Abs also hosts the main hospital in the area.
Yemen is in the midst of a new cholera outbreak and Hajjah is one of the five highest priority cholera hotspots in the country with 21,427 suspected cholera cases in Hajjah and 47 deaths already. If the fighting damages or cuts off the water facility this could be devastating. Even before these new displacements there was already around 300,000 displaced people scattered in the water scarce governorate, and big gaps in water, sanitation, food, shelter and other basics.
The UN predicts that up to 400,000 people could be displaced if the fighting reaches Hodeidah.
Although the overall number of civilian casualties have reduced in Hodeidah, it still had the highest civilian casualty rate in Yemen in the first three months of the year. Shelling and fighting continue to hit houses, businesses, farms and schools and continues to kill, maim and injure civilians.
Almost five months since the Hodeidah ceasefire and Stockholm agreement came into effect in December 2018, parties to the conflict continue to engage in active fighting across many parts of the country with heavy fighting taking place in Hajjah, parts of Hodeidah city and governorate, Taizz, Sa'ada and Al Dhale in Southern Yemen. In Al Dhale, one of the main routes between Aden and Sana'a which is essential for transporting humanitarian supplies has been cut off because off the fighting, and is also restricting people's movements and ability to flee to safety.
According to the Civilian Impact Monitoring Project (CIMP) Hodeidah governorate continues to see the highest civilian impact in the first three months of 2019, with 276 incidents or 41 per cent of the total civilian impact incidents in the country. Overall, Hodeidah governorate also saw the highest civilian casualty rate, with 283 civilian casualties reported, constituting 31 per cent of the country-wide civilian casualty toll.
The next highest civilian impact can be found in Taizz and Hajjah. According to CIMP the weekly average number of civilian casualties has doubled in Taizz, from 8 to 16, while in Hajjah, the number has more than tripled, from 5 to 16 per week, during the first three months of the year.
Fuel stations across Hodeidah, Sa'ada, and Sana'a have seen verylong queues in recent weeks, with drivers sometimes waiting in line for days. The shortage of fuel in local markets has significantly increased the cost of transport and threatens to lead to a hike in the price of food and other goods.
The Government of Yemen continues to implement Decree 75, which requires fuel importers to provide proof that imported oil derivatives were purchased through official markets. Without this proof, the government has delayed or denied permission to ships carrying fuel imports to berth, even when these same ships have been cleared by the UN.
Commercial food and fuel imports remain insufficient for meeting basic needs in Yemen and fluctuate on a monthly basis creating uncertainty. WFP reports that the average cost of a minimum food basket increased by 3 per cent between January and February. This means the cost of a food basket is now 102 per cent higher than in 2015, such price increases threaten the food security of millions of vulnerable households on low incomes.
Note to Editors:
The total population of Yemen is estimated at 30.5 million, 24.1 million of whom now need some form of humanitarian aid or protection.
3.3 million people were recorded as living in Hodeidah governorate prior to June 2018, 600,000 within Hodeidah city. 2.3 million people lived in Hajjah governorate where the UN has now recorded as many as 420,000 displaced people across 300 sites.
Cholera has started to spread at a fast speed again and could have deadly consequences. Data collected by the Ministry of Public Health and Population with the support of WHO indicates that there are262,492 suspected cases with 529 associated deaths since January 2019 up to 2 May. About a quarter of the cases are children under the age of five.
NRC continues to operate across nine governorates in Yemen, delivering assistance with food, safe water, shelter, education and legal assistance to people displaced by violence.
Photos taken in Hodeidah since the offensive are available here (https://nrc.smugmug.com/Country-Programmes/Yemen/2018/n-t8GLjK/Hodeidah-...).
Photos and story of Saleh on Hajjah displacements are available here (https://nrc.smugmug.com/Country-Programmes/Yemen/2019/Hajjah-Abs-Camp/n-...)
B-rolls and video from Kushar can be downloaded for free use here (https://www.dropbox.com/sh/m2cw814kogcp5ea/AACUeFm3ckDUUDN2Ah48oa_Na?dl =0).
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