Yemen: Escalation of armed clashes and airstrikes in Sana’a City - Flash Update 1 | 04 December 2017
Tensions between Ansar Allah and the General People’s Congress flared up on 1 December, sparking fierce fighting in Sana’a city and other areas of Yemen. At least 125 people have been killed and more than 230 people injured, according to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). Clashes have been reported from at least 16 different neighbourhoods in Sana’a city. Some of the fiercest fighting has been around the Diplomatic area near the UN compound and those of other humanitarian organisations. Roads are blocked and tanks are deployed on many streets in Sana’a. Airstrikes have also intensified and together with shelling and gunfire, have damaged several civilian houses and some humanitarian assets and have trapped civilians in unsafe areas.
The situation in the city remains volatile and unpredictable and fighting has spread to other governorates, such as Hajjah. On 3 December 2017, the UN Secretary-General (SG) called on all parties to the conflict to abide by their obligations under international humanitarian law to ensure that civilians are protected and that the wounded are afforded safe access to medical care. The SG called on all sides facilitate life-saving humanitarian access.
On 4 December 207, the Humanitarian Coordinator in Yemen, called on all parties to urgently facilitate a humanitarian pause on 5 December to allow civilians to leave their homes and seek assistance and protection and to facilitate the movement of aid workers to ensure the continuity of life-saving programmes.
Impact on the protection of the civilian population
• ICRC is reporting at least 125 people reportedly killed and more than 230 people injured.
• Ambulances and medical teams cannot reach the injured due to ongoing clashes, with reports of medical teams coming under attack.
• Humanitarian organisations are receiving desperate calls for help by residents trapped in neighborhoods engulfed by fighting who are seeking to leave to safer areas. Only eight families were evacuated on 4 December.
• People living in some of the the most conflict-affected areas such as the Diplomatic Area, Haddah Zone, Sakhr Street and Al-Sabain Area, are reporting that many shops have either closed or have reduced hours of operation and that food is becoming scarce. The movement of water trucks have also faced restrictions.
• Main shops and super markets in the city are closed or partially functioning. Small shops in Sabeen areas are open while Maen district is on complete lock down. Situation in downtown (Al-Tahreer) is better with shops opened half of the time.
• Many families living in Algeria Street, 60th Street, Baghdad Street and the Political Zone are trapped in their houses and are reportedly running out of food, water and fuel and unable to access healthcare.
• Petrol, water and cooking gas increased by 50 per cent, 34 percent and 24 per cent respectively between 30 November and 3 December. Rising prices will significantly curtail the ability of people to buy essential goods.
• Cash transfer planned on 4 December in the Sana’a districts of Bani Matar and Bani-Qias, in support of 411 households suffering from Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM) and Moderate Acute Malnutrition (MAM) could not take place because of the fighting.
• The Humanitarian Coordinator in Yemen has called on all parties to allow a humanitarian pause on 5 December 2017, to enable civilians to leave to safer areas, seek medical support and access supplies.
Impact on humanitarian operations and movement of aid workers
• Humanitarian movements within Sana’a, including flights in and from the capital over the last days have been suspended. Aid workers remain in lockdown in their residencies.
• Many warehouses managed by humanitarian partners to support the humanitarian operation in northern governorates are located in Sana’a City; insecurity has hindered movement of humanitarian supplies as well as personell in or out of the capital. As a result, many humanitarian organisations have suspended operations, including in Amanat Al Asimah, Amran, Hudayda city, Hajjah, Sa’ada, Taizz City and parts of Al Jawf governorates.
• Humanitarian partners are unable to continue critical life-saving activities. This has impacted support to hospitals and to the 7 million people who entirely rely on humanitarian assistance and are facing a heightened risk of famine.
• The Nutrition Cluster reports that deliveries of supplies throughout the country from Sana’a have been disrupted.
Impact on the provision of health services
• The Yemeni Private Hospital Union has appealed for medicines, medical supplies and oxygen to some key private hospitals to respond to trauma cases.
• Al Sabeen Hospital is functioning, but it is located in an area where heavy fighthing is occurring. Patients, including children in need of treatment for SAM and MAM are not able to reach it.
• The closure of supply companies that provide medicines to Al Sabeen hospital has created a challenge for the hospital to replenish its stocks, including fuel.
• Humanitarian agencies cannot reach their warehouses to access supplies to deliver to people in need.
• WHO has released some oxygen and fuel to support some hospitals in Sana’a (including two private hospitals) using a private company.
• The escalating situation threatens to push the barely functioning basic services (including WASH and Health) to a stand-still. These services have already been seriously compromised with the latest shock of the impact of the blockade.
Impact on the provision of water and sanitation services
• Movement of water trucks has been limited by the security situation. UNICEF is working with local water corporation to try to pump water to the affected areas where water trucks are not reaching. However, fuel shortages are a critical gap, making it difficult to fully operate water pumps.
• Contractors are affected as the supply chain of essential equipment, spare-parts and others has been interrupted due to the blockade of roads.
• Cholera response by the UNICEF WASH Rapid Response Teams operations has been affected in parts of Sana’a City and Sa’ada Governorate.
Impact on humanitarian activities in other governorates
• Water supply networks may reduce their activities in Hudaydah and Amanat Al Asimah as the electric gridline might have been affected by intensive fighting in Sana’a. These two water networks still partially depend on electricity and they have reached out to cluster partners with fuel requests.
• Nutrition programmes in Sa’ada Governorate are on hold because the security situation is very tense.
• In Ibb Governorate, nutrition activities are ongoing and most health facilities are functioning normally, except in Al Qaeda and Al Makhader districts where heavy clashes have been reported.
• In Taizz, nutrition operations are ongoing. Some mobile nutritional clinics have been stopped in Mawia and Mawza localities due to the fighting.
To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.