Intense clashes which broke out in several districts of Ma'rib Governorate in the first week of February 2021 have continued, leading to the displacement of more than 8,000 civilians. Initial field reports indicate massive displacement within Ma'rib Governorate, especially from Sirwah District, which has seen the heaviest fighting.
Ma'rib Governorate already hosts an estimated one million Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) – the largest IDP population in Yemen according to local authorities – and some live in approximately 125 IDP sites. Sirwah District hosts around 30,000 displaced people in at least 14 displacement sites, and there are reports of fighting close to several sites. According to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), on average, some people have been displaced three times and most newly displaced people had been living in displacement sites, with some reportedly carrying their shelters with them to their new locations.
HUMANITARIAN IMPACT AND NEEDS
As of 24 February, the overall civilian casualty figures and the number of displaced persons remain unclear due to continued fighting in the affected areas. IOM estimates that 1,152 families (8,064 individuals) have been displaced since 8 February, while the Executive Unit for IDPs (Government of Yemen) estimates that 1,517 families (10,619 individuals) were displaced over the past two weeks. Aid agencies estimate that the actual number of displaced families might be much higher. Most displaced families fled to safer areas within Sirwah and Ma'rib Al Wadi districts and Ma'rib City. The majority of displacement is secondary from existing IDP sites and locations to safer areas in Sirwah. At least three IDP sites in Sirwah – Al-Zur, Dhanah Alhayal, Dhanah (Alsawabin) and Almustashfa – were impacted by the fighting and one of them has emptied due to hostilities and two health facilities had to suspend operations. There have also been reports in recent weeks of houses being damaged during hostilities, including in Ma'rib City and Sirwah. IOM estimates that 50 per cent of those displaced by the fighting in Sirwah are women, while 30 per cent are children.
With continued fighting, more civilians are expected to continue to flee towards the eastern outskirts of Sirwah and into Ma’rib City, where IDP sites are already crowded and response capacities are overstretched. Should hostilities move towards the city and surrounding areas, it could displace another 385,000 people outside of the city and into Hadramawt, while limiting humanitarian access and placing significant strains on the already limited resources.
There has been widespread concern by member states of the escalating hostilities in Ma’rib Governorate. At the UN Security Council briefing on 18 February, ERC/USG Mark Lowcock warned that the escalation of attacks on Ma’rib was extremely dangerous and threatened “to send hundreds of thousands of people again running for their lives at a time when everyone should be doing everything possible to stop famine.” On 19 February, a spokesperson Office for the High Commissioner for Human Rights also expressed increasing concern for the fate of civilians and urged parties to the conflict to protect all civilians and to respect international humanitarian law principles on the conduct of hostilities.
Assessment of the needs of 958 families has been completed and are ongoing for an additional 337 families. Humanitarian partners on the ground have identified shelter, non-food items, food, water and sanitation, health and protection assistance as urgent needs.
- UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
- To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.