Armed confrontations, which erupted in several districts of Ma’rib in the first week of February 2021, have continued unabated, especially in western and northern parts of the governorate. This has led to the displacement of at least 1,532 families (about 11,000 people), according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM). Many of those displaced are from Sirwah District – which has continued to see some of the heaviest fighting – with some having to flee displacement sites as fighting drew near, displacing them anew. A majority of internally displaced persons (IDPs) reported being displaced for the third or fourth time.
Ma'rib Governorate hosts the largest IDP population in Yemen, according to local authorities – with some living 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 IOM, most newly displaced people had been living in displacement sites, with some reportedly carrying their shelters with them to their new locations. Most new IDPs moved from three of the largest displacement sites in Sirwah (Al Zur, Dhanah Al Sawabin and Danah Al Hayal) to Al Rawdah IDP site in Arak, also in Sirwah District. Some displaced families have also sought refuge in Ma'rib Al Wadi District and Ma'rib City, and it is expected that further displacement will bring new people to these areas, where conditions in displacement sites are already overcrowded and needs are reportedly severe.
Field reports indicated that about 167 families were displaced to Sana’a Governorate and Sana’a City.
HUMANITARIAN IMPACT AND NEEDS
Local populations and displaced people have continued to bear the brunt of ongoing hostilities, with some seeing their homes destroyed or having to flee their communities and displacement sites. The overall civilian casualty figures and the number of displaced persons remain unclear due to continued fighting in the affected areas. While IOM estimates that 1,532 families (11,000 individuals) have been displaced between 8 February and 9 March 2021, the Executive Unit for IDPs (Government of Yemen) estimates that 2,053 families (about 14,371 individuals) were displaced as of 27 February. Aid agencies estimate that the actual number of displaced families might be much higher. A large number of displaced families fled to safer areas within Sirwah District, Ma'rib Al Wadi District and Ma'rib City, with most displacement being secondary from existing displacement sites and locations to safer areas in Sirwah District. According to IOM, Al Rawdah IDP site in Sirwah, which hosted 677 families before the recent hostilities broke out, has seen its population increase three-fold.
This influx has strained existing resources at the site, stoking tensions between existing residents and new arrivals.
According to the Camp Coordination and Camp Management (CCCM) Cluster, the proximity of the site to combat areas raises major protection and safety concerns for the displaced people hosted at the site. It has also made the delivery of services to them more challenging Pre-existing and newly displaced people continue to be concerned about their safety and worry that fighting might force them to move again. The fighting has not abated, and if it continues, more civilians are expected to flee towards the eastern outskirts of Sirwah and into Ma’rib City, where displacement sites are already crowded and response capacities are overstretched. Should hostilities move towards Ma’rib City and close surrounds, partners estimate that some 385,000 people could be displaced, outside of the city and into Hadramawt and Shabwah governorates. This would make accessing services and assistance more difficult, and place significant strains on the limited resources available. Humanitarian partners on the ground have identified shelter, food, water and sanitation, health and protection assistance as the most urgent needs for newly displaced families.
- UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
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