Intensified fighting continues to take place across frontline areas in Ma’rib Governorate, with hostilities particularly rife in Sirwah District. This has led to large waves of displacement within the governorate since the start of the escalation in early February 2021, especially as hosting sites for internally displaced persons (IDP) also sustain shelling. Four IDP sites in Sirwah District were reportedly impacted by shelling between 22 and 29 March, according to the Government of Yemen’s Executive Unit for IDPs (ExU) as well as local humanitarian partners. Over a dozen people were reportedly injured in these incidents, and the ExU has closed all four impacted IDP sites. Some 555 families were evacuated to the nearby Al Sowayda site, which already hosted 1,163 displaced families. Initial assessments indicate pressing humanitarian needs including shelter, food, and water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) assistance at Al Sowayda.
The International Organization for Migration (IOM) reports that at least 2,625 families were displaced in Ma’rib Governorate between 8 February and 10 April due to the intensified hostilities, many of them having already been previously displaced and moving to areas in Sirwah District. These families are among the 1 million displaced people who live in Ma’rib Governorate – the largest IDP population in Yemen – including in some 125 IDP sites. Some 30,000 displaced people live in Sirwah District, with most people newly displaced in the district moving to areas in Arak and Kasarah, closer to Ma’rib City. A further 692 families were reportedly displaced to Sana’a City, Sana’a, Al Bayda and Amran governorates from Ma’rib Governorate between the start of March and 18 April, according to the Supreme Council for the Management and Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (SCMCHA) and humanitarian partners. As hostilities continue, civilian lives continue to be at risk, with the Civilian Impact Monitoring Project (CIMP) reporting at least 14 civilian casualties in the first half of April. The fighting is also driving increasing concentration of greater numbers of people in fewer hosting sites, compounding existing overcrowded conditions in the remaining sites and intensifying the already severe needs of the people living there. Yet even as needs grow, the situation is increasingly constraining the ability of humanitarian partners and local authorities to access and deliver life-saving goods and services to the people in need.
Highlighting the inherent dangers of the densely populated IDP sites in Ma’rib Governorate, on 3 April a fire in the Aljufainah site – reportedly ignited by an electrical fault – caused the death of one child and injured several other civilians, some of whom needed intensive care unit treatment. Eighteen shelters were fully damaged by the fire, impacting 21 families who were subsequently relocated to a nearby school pending longer-term arrangements. Protection needs assessments have been conducted for 1,851 families in Sirwah District, with assessments for 500 families to result in assistance by Rapid Response Mechanism (RRM) teams. Protection Cluster partners have also conducted protection monitoring assessments for 603 families in Ma’rib City and 46 families in Al Jubah District.
HUMANITARIAN IMPACT AND NEEDS
Continued fighting in the affected areas is inhibiting the verification of precise figures of overall civilian casualties and the number of displaced persons. According to IOM, at least 2,625 families have been displaced in Ma’rib Governorate since 8 February, while aid agencies estimate that the number could be higher. The IDP population in Sirwah District has been the most impacted, with IOM estimating that fighting has displaced people from eight of the 14 IDP sites in Sirwah District since the start of the ongoing escalation, including the evacuation of the Al Khair, Al Mil, Al Tawasul and Edat Alrra hosting sites at the end of March. The Alrawda and Al Sowayda IDP sites in Sirwah District have received most of the newly displaced population – over 1,150 families and over 670 families respectively – and concerns remain high about the safety of these sites and the people living here given their proximity to combat areas. Smaller numbers of IDPs have also made their way to Ma’rib City and Ma’rib Al Wadi District.
Access to basic services was already inadequate in Sirwah District’s IDP sites prior to the recent displacements, and the situation has now become even more dire. The most urgent needs of the newly displaced families in Ma’rib Governorate have been identified as shelter, food, WASH, health and protection assistance. Humanitarian partners and local authorities are working to address these and other needs, including expanding site management and coordination support at the Alrawda and Al Sowayda IDP sites. Tensions are nevertheless being stoked between existing residents and new arrivals at the receiving IDP sites, as more people compete for available services and the hostilities continue to impede the delivery of assistance. In areas of arrival in Sana’a City, Sana’a, Al Bayda and Amran governorates, Shelter partners have verified 477 families requiring shelter assistance, with 30 families pending assessment.
- UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
- To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.