WFP reaches close to 100,000 people in Yemen amidst continued fighting

SANA'A - The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) and its partners have reached almost 100,000 displaced Yemenis with food assistance in four northern governorates since August when a new round of fighting erupted between government troops and rebel forces.

In the wake of recent clashes in the border area with Saudi Arabia, WFP is monitoring the situation to determine if more people start to flee the area, and to what extent its supply route through the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia into northern Sa'ada could be affected.

WFP is currently reaching internally displaced people in Amran, Al Jawf, Hajjah, and Sa'ada governorates. This marks a significant increase from the early weeks of the crisis when it was only able to reach 10,000 people in two governorates.

In spite of better access to some areas affected by the fighting, the situation remains volatile and supply routes are unreliable. The situation is particularly dramatic in Sa'ada town where access has been extremely difficult for the past three months.

"Our biggest concern is that we might be unable to re-supply stocks in Sa'ada town, which could result in widespread suffering," said Gian Carlo Cirri, WFP Representative in Yemen. "WFP is calling for the establishment of reliable humanitarian corridors to guarantee safe and continued passage for relief convoys."

WFP has delivered commodities through a cross-border operation from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to assist some 10,000 displaced people in the northern border area of Mandaba, five kilometres inside Yemen. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the Yemeni Red Crescent Society (YRCS) began distribution in the area last week.

The influx of people to Mandaba has increased during the past month, with up to 200 people arriving daily, fleeing an escalation of fighting in the Al Baqim area. A recent UN assessment mission to the area revealed that food prices have doubled since the conflict began and is out of reach for many families. Other urgent needs include blankets, cooking utensils, medicine, and water sanitation facilities.

The major supply route through Al Jawf governorate, which reaches more than 55,000 internally displaced people in and around Sa'ada town, had been blocked for nearly three weeks before it re-opened on 31 October. WFP dispatched two food convoys through the newly opened route and is also looking at alternative routes to ensure uninterrupted access to people affected by the conflict.

WFP's partners, Islamic Relief in Sa'ada town and the Adventist Relief and Development Agency (ADRA) in Al Jawf, are working in extremely difficult conditions to provide life-saving food assistance.

For further information:

Maria Santamarina, WFP/Sana'a, Tel. + 967-1-214100 ext 2407, Mobile +967-733232197

Reem Nada, WFP/Cairo, Tel. + 202-2528-1730 ext. 2610, Mobile +20166634522

Abeer Etefa, WFP/Cairo, Tel. + 202-2528-1730 ext. 2600, Mobile +20166634352