Yemen Humanitarian Update Covering 19 - 25 February 2018 [EN/AR]
Access constraints in the northern governorates
Humanitarian organisations continue to confront obstacles to reaching people in need across the northern governorates. In Hajjah and Raymah governorates, in recent weeks, implementing partners have been held up on three separate occasions at checkpoints after returning from humanitarian missions.
In Sa’ada governorate, local authorities have in recent weeks raised concerns about the conduct of humanitarian assessments and cash-based interventions. In Al Jawf, an assessment survey has been delayed amid concerns by local authorities about planned questions.
Such challenges are not new. The UN, international NGOs and national NGOs have all faced obstacles in the northern governorates for several years. Administrative restrictions, insecure environments and interference in assessments and delivery of assistance reduce humanitarian actors’ ability to operate in a safe, effective and principled manner. Area Humanitarian Country Teams continue to monitor these obstacles to ensure humanitarian organisations active in the affected areas are aware about operational developments and appropriate responses are adopted.
Ongoing negotiations with relevant authorities, both in the governorates and Sana’a, have made some progress in recent days in resolving misunderstandings, affirming humanitarian operational principles, and identifying possible solutions. The humanitarian leadership has received initial assurances that steps will be taken to expand humanitarians’ ability to reach people in need and ensure access by communities to required services.
On 22 February, at the request of the Humanitarian Country Team, the Humanitarian Access Working Group (HAWG) met to discuss current access challenges in the northern governorates. The team agreed on the importance of developing a common approach, both among UN and NGO partners, towards prevailing challenges based on common operational guidance and humanitarian principles.
The HAWG will continue to monitor the situation in the northern governorates, with a view to continue supporting ongoing engagement with local authorities, both in Sana’a and the sub-offices, to find solutions to prevailing access constraints.
Updates from the hubs
Al Hudaydah: The frontlines in the Al Hudaydah conflict have remained the same. Armed clashes between Government of Yemen (GoY) and Ansar Allah forces, and airstrikes continued in parts of Hays, Al Tuhayitah and Al Khawkhah districts in Al Hudaydah governorate during the week. Sporadic shelling was reported on Hays, with unknown casualties. The road between Hays and Al Garrahi remains blocked, leading to shortages of commercial supplies in local markets and increased prices. The ongoing clashes in the coastal districts of Hudaydah have displaced tens of families to safer areas within the governorate, as well to Ibb and Taizz governorates. Humanitarian partners have scaled-up the response to affected people, including IDPs. In Hajjah, despite increased access constraints and security incidents, missions are continuing. Hajjah hosts 19 per cent of Yemen’s two million IDPs (about 376,000 people). Figure 1 indicates assistance provided to IDPs in Al Hudaydah.
Aden: Aden city is tense but calm following two explosions in At Tawahi on 24 February that reportedly killed at least four people. Humanitarian organisations from the south are scoping ways to understand and address humanitarian needs in the area. On 24 February, an inter-agency mission travelled to Mukalla in Hadramaut governorate to engage authorities and partners, assess coordination mechanisms and explore ways to enhance programmatic responses by the Aden Humanitarian Coordination Team to critical humanitarian needs in eastern Yemen. Ultimately, the plan is for the Mukalla hub to become operational.
Ibb: The eastern, northern fronts of Taizz city experienced fierce armed clashes between forces loyal to the GoY and Ansar Allah during the reporting period. Indiscriminate shelling was reported in residential areas of Taizz, as well as in Maqbanah and Al Wazyiah districts. However, clashes reduced in Jabal Habsahi, Sabir Al-Mawadim and At Taizyiah districts. The clashes in Taizz have displaced some families to safer areas within Ibb and Taizz governorates. An assessment mission to the Taizz coastal districts of Al Mukha and Dhubab found an urgent need to scale-up health activities in these districts and to establish an effective referral mechanism. In Ibb, the situation is relatively calm although economic hardship is evident. The road connecting Ibb and Taizz Governorate through Al-Misrakh district has been reopened after a temporary closure due to clashes and bombardments.
Sa’ada: Civilian casualties were reported in Sa’ada following a week of intense airstrikes, with 15 civilians reportedly killed when their vehicles were hit at the vicinity of Al Ammar checkpoint in As Safra district on 21 February. Unconfirmed reports the same week, indicated that six children and two women had been killed by another airstrike in Kitaf district. Fierce clashes were also reported in Al Jawf governorate, as GoY forces attempted to break through to Bart Al Anan district. Humanitarian partners reported difficulties in implementing programmes, including access challenges. There is ongoing discussion with authorities to facilitate assessments and information gathering activities.
Sana’a: From 15-21 February, only six incidents impacting the protection of civilians were recorded in the Sana’a field hub (Sana’a capital, Sana’a and Marib governorates); all caused by airstrikes. Four incidents took place within Sana’a governorate, while one incident occured in Marib. Four fatalities were reported, while 15 households were displaced and 15 others suffered a loss of livelihoods. Ground fighting between GoY and Ansar Allah forces continued in Marib, Sana’a and Al Bayda governorates. In Sana’a city, no major fluctuation in the prices of basic commodities was reported. The exchange rate for the currency remained stable at 477 YER/1 US$. Humanitarian operations are ongoing.