Yemen + 4 more

UNHCR delivers vital aid to Yemenis in embattled Taizz

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Ahmed Najee, aged 9, collects UNHCR aid items in Taizz, Yemen. © UNHCR/M. Al Hasani

GENEVA, Feb 16 (UNHCR) – The UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR, has delivered blankets, mattresses, and other emergency relief aid to 1,000 families largely isolated by months of intense fighting in the embattled centre of Taizz city in southwest Yemen.

Some of the most intense fighting in the ongoing conflict in Yemen, now in its tenth month, has been centred in Taizz, where more than 200,000 residents are cut off from regular access to humanitarian aid.

UNHCR has been unable to access the city for more than five months. The February 14 delivery, which was supported by other local aid organizations, followed more than three weeks of negotiations between UNHCR and the warring parties, and allowed trucks with essential supplies to reach the Al Qahirah, Salh and Al Mudhaffar districts.

The assistance comes in the immediate wake of the recent delivery by other humanitarian actors of food aid and medical supplies into Taizz city. UNHCR Representative Johannes Van Der Klaauw, led the mission to oversee the distribution and witnessed the critical need for the supplies UNHCR is providing.

"He noted that this first distribution of domestic relief items should be a prelude for sustained access and delivery of various types of aid into the city and surrounding districts in the governorate," UNHCR spokesperson Andreas Needham told reporters at a news briefing in Geneva. "He also reiterated UNHCR's call for sustained and unhindered access to humanitarian responses.

Displacement figures continue to rise in Taizz governorate, which now hosts the highest number of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in the country. At approximately 400,000 this accounts for 16 per cent of the current total of 2.5 million IDPs.

Although this week is the first time that UNHCR aid has reached the locked-down enclave in the centre of Taizz city, UNHCR has been distributing emergency relief assistance to various districts in the governorate since June 2015, when UNHCR succeeded in distributing relief items to nearly 1,800 individuals in four districts of Taizz governorate -Maqbanah, Ash Shamayatayn, Dimnat Kadir and Ta'iziyah – through a national partner.

Several attempts to reach areas in Taizz city in September failed. Since December, UNHCR and its partner have distributed humanitarian aid to around 29,000 IDPs in five districts in Taizz governorate – Dimnat Khadir, Al Ma'afer, Al Mawasit, At Ta'iziyah, and Jabal Habashy.

As of February 15, UNHCR has reached some 346,500 IDPs and conflict-affected persons in 20 of the 21 governorates in Yemen with emergency relief assistance such as blankets, sleeping mats, plastic buckets, plastic sheeting, kitchen sets, tents, and emergency shelter kits, which comprise wooden poles and planks, plastic sheeting, and tools such as hammer, axe, rope and nails.

The humanitarian situation in Yemen remains critical, with an estimated 21.2 million people – equivalent to 82 per cent of the population – in need of some kind of humanitarian assistance, and the conflict continues to force families to flee their homes across 21 of the 22 Yemeni Governorates.

UNHCR's recently launched Yemen Situation Emergency Response for those displaced inside Yemen and those forced to flee to neighbouring countries is currently just 5 per cent funded at US$8.6M with a funding gap of US$163.6M for the required US$172.2M. UNHCR's response inside Yemen is 7 per cent funded.

The response in Djibouti is 1 per cent funded while no funding has been received for the responses in Ethiopia, Somalia and Sudan. The revised 2016 Yemen Humanitarian Response Plan will be launched by the Humanitarian Coordinator for Yemen in Geneva later this week.