Towards mid-July, intense clashes were reported in the volatile area of Harf Sufyan, in northern Amran governorate. Since then, sporadic clashes have continued, adding to an already difficult humanitarian situation.
"Many people are destitute, having had to flee their homes because of fighting. They are unable to return and struggling to survive as best as they can," said Jean-Nicolas Marti, the head of delegation of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Yemen. "Heavy rains, powerful winds and other extreme conditions make life even worse for those without a proper roof over their heads."
Over the past month, rains have triggered sporadic floods in the east and north of the country, making some roads unusable and cutting off whole communities from each other. According to officials, the prices of basic commodities such as dairy products, sugar, rice, meat and vegetables, have soared. Since many people cannot afford the high prices, a significant number of shops have decided to close until it becomes clear what will happen. As a result, it is becoming ever harder for people to meet their most basic needs.
"Times are bad for people throughout Yemen, but particularly for communities in the north affected by the round of fighting that ended in February 2010. Especially those who lost almost everything are ever more dependent on whatever outside help they can get," said Mr Marti. "The ICRC and the Yemen Red Crescent Society are doing everything in their power to make their life in the camps housing internally displaced people and elsewhere bearable."
The ICRC has been working in the north of the country since 2004. In close cooperation with the Yemen Red Crescent, it strives to alleviate the suffering of tens of thousand of people adversely affected by repeated instances of armed conflict. Despite an unpredictable situation, both organizations have provided water, food, shelter and basic medical care for at least 150,000 displaced people and residents in Sa'ada and Amran governorates over the past year.
In addition to its work in the north, the ICRC has expanded its activities elsewhere in the country. It recently opened an office in the southern city of Aden, where its current priority is to ensure that staff and volunteers of the Yemen Red Crescent are trained and capable of responding effectively to emergencies. In addition, the ICRC has started work on two projects in the governorate of Lahj aiming to supply over 14,000 people with clean water.
Food and other essential items
In the north, many people cannot return to their homes because of ongoing tensions, and have no other place to go. The ICRC and the Yemen Red Crescent have been taking action to help them cope. Over the past month, they have:
distributed one-month food rations, consisting of wheat flour, rice, beans, oil, sugar and salt, to over 17,000 people in Sa'ada governorate's Sahar and al-Safra districts and in the Damaj area, and to 6,500 internally displaced people living in camps in Sa'ada City, and to 200 in a camp in Amran City;
given blankets, mattresses, kitchen sets and other basic household items to over 2,500 people in the old city of Sa'ada and in the district of al-Safra, and to 200 displaced people living in a camp in Amran City. In addition, about 6,500 displaced people living in one of the six camps in Sa'ada governorate received buckets, jerrycans and other basic items;
provided over 6,500 displaced people living in camps in or near Sa'ada City with plastic sheets, and replaced the damaged tents of another 1,800 people to help them to protect themselves better against recent torrential rains.
Supplying clean water
Over the past month, in close cooperation with the Yemen Red Crescent, the ICRC:
completed the construction of two rural water networks to give more than 1,500 returnees in al-Khodad and al-Masro' in Sa'ada governorate access to clean water;
continued to provide some 450,000 litres of water per day to 75 water points in Sa'ada governorate, and sufficient diesel to power the water network of the entire city of Sa'ada. Two boreholes that it has upgraded in the old city cover the needs of nearly 120,000 conflict-affected people, including about 10,600 displaced people living in camps run by the Yemen Red Crescent;
supplied clean water to more than 9,000 displaced people and residents living in the areas of al-Gubba, Khaiwan al-Hamra, Khaiwain al-Medina, Khamer and Houth, in the northern part of Amran governorate, and completed the construction of five new water points and upgraded another, which had been destroyed during the conflict in the area of al-Harf, in the north-eastern part of the governorate;
continued work on two rural projects in the Sama'an al-Baqri and Kawkaban areas, in Lahj governorate, aiming to provide more than 14,000 people with drinking water.
In July and early August, the ICRC:
- improved access to basic health care by completing the renovation of the Yemen Red Crescent health-care centre in Sa'ada City, and continuing to upgrade the Red Crescent centre in Amran City and a government hospital in Houth;
- continued to provide support for 11 Yemen Red Crescent health-care facilities in Sa'ada governorate where over 4,600 consultations took place. In Amran governorate, the two ICRC-supported health-care facilities at Khaiwan al-Hamra and Khaiwan al-Medina together provided around 850 consultations;
- provided the new Yemen Red Crescent medical warehouse in Sa'ada City with primary health-care supplies and disposables (such as tablets, antibiotics, injectables, children's syrups and intravenous fluids) sufficient for up to four months;
- organized three train-the-trainers courses on first-aid, two in Aden and one in Sana'a; as a result, 58 volunteers from 13 Yemen Red Crescent branches will now be able to train fellow volunteers to respond effectively in the event of armed clashes, natural disasters or other emergencies;
- held a two-day meeting in Aden City to discuss ways of improving the services provided for patients in the five physical rehabilitation facilities it supports (in Aden, al-Mukalla, Sa'ada, Sana'a and Taiz). Twenty-five people, representing the five facilities, the Social Fund for Development, the Rehabilitation Fund and Care for Handicapped Persons, and four government ministries, participated.
For further information, please contact:
Rabab Al-Rifaï, ICRC Sana'a, tel: +967 1 213 844 or +967 711 94 43 43
Marçal Izard, ICRC Geneva, tel: +41 22 730 24 58 or +41 79 217 32 24
or visit our website: www.icrc.org