UNHCR brings aid to flashpoints in Yemen, warns of deteriorating conditions
This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson William Spindler – to whom quoted text may be attributed – at today's press briefing at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.
Hostilities in the Red Sea governorate of Taizz, south of Al Hudaydah, have displaced almost 50,000 people since the start of 2017. This is in addition to the three million who have been uprooted since the beginning of the conflict in Yemen, of whom two million remain displaced and one million have provisionally returned home to precarious conditions.
UNHCR field teams have last week returned from emergency distributions in Taizz’s embattled district of Mokha, one of the worst affected areas in the governorate where humanitarian access has been challenging due to ongoing clashes and movement restrictions imposed by parties to the conflict.
UNHCR has managed to secure access to Mokha for the third time this year. The latest UNHCR aid distribution in Mokha will cover more than 6,200 people with emergency assistance, adding to the 69,857 already reached since the start of this year. Another 17,745 people have been reached in Hudaydah in the same period.
Taizz governorate has been a flashpoint in the conflict, generating 27 per cent of internally displaced people in Yemen, and also hosting another 303,672 displaced people. Many who have attempted to flee hostilities in Taizz have been displaced elsewhere across the governorate.
In Mokha, UNHCR teams observed worsening conditions for both those displaced by conflict and the local communities hosting them. Many people are living out in the open in harsh conditions and without adequate shelter, protection and material assistance.
In Hudaydah, UNHCR field teams also observed a huge spike in humanitarian needs. Displaced people are now living on the streets with some taking shelter on pavements, and others most vulnerable including female and child-headed households turning to negative coping strategies to enable their survival such as through begging and child labour, which is now rampant across the governorate.
UNHCR has warned late last month an intensification of conflict in Al Hudaydah would lead to large-scale displacement of up to an additional half a million people, further increasing needs and vulnerabilities in an high-need area which is already host to a sizeable displaced and conflict affected population and suffering from critical levels of food insecurity.
With Hudaydah host to more than 109,000 displaced individuals, many are reporting anxiety about reports of possible intensifications in hostilities in the governorate, unsure of how and where they would flee.
In anticipation of any further intensification in hostilities, UNHCR is leading efforts with humanitarian partners to respond to additional displacement under different scenarios. UNHCR is pre-positioning supplies to respond to affected people and in the event of anticipated displacement, will help establish, multi-sector service hubs along major displacement routes to offer respite to people fleeing violence.
UNHCR will also provide mobile core relief kits, essential protection services, emergency shelter and household assistance at the final destinations of the displaced in the form of shelter materials, vouchers, financial assistance or cash subsidies for rent, depending on needs.
With UNHCR’s current supplies at critical levels, millions remaining displaced across the country, UNHCR is appealing for urgent support to respond to current and anticipated displacement. UNHCR’s response to the humanitarian crisis in Yemen is only funded by less than a quarter to date.