Yemen: Sa'ada Emergency Situation Report No. 4


This report was issued by the Office of the UN Resident Coordinator in Yemen. It covers the period from 05 September to 07 September 2009. The next report will be issued on or around 10 September 2009.


- The Yemen Flash Appeal, launched on 2 September for US$23.75 million, has received no funding to date.

- Local media reports that fighting continues at Al Garayeb/Malaheet, which is close to Al-Mazrak camp and may impact on the security of the camp and aid workers.

- Registration capacity needs to be strengthened in some of the camps to cope with the demand from internally displaced persons (IDPs).

- So far, WHO is the only UN Agency providing assistance in Al Jawf through the Ministry of Health.

- As a result of the conflict, school enrolments have been reduced by up to 21 percent for the 2009-2010 school year in almost all Sa'ada districts.

- Infrastructure for the new camps in Haradh and Amran is yet to be completed.

- As of 07 September, over 162 tons of food aid has been distributed since mid-August, reaching over 13,000 IDPs.

II. Situation Overview

Fighting between Yemeni security forces and Al Houthi tribal groups in Sa'ada and Amran (particularly Harf Sufyan) governorates is ongoing, and insecurity continues to impede access to both areas. A ceasefire that was announced on 4 September by the Government of Yemen in order to allow for the distribution of humanitarian assistance lasted just a few hours. The basis for the ceasefire as well as the circumstances surrounding its subsequent breach remain unclear.

An estimated 150,000 people have been displaced so far, and thousands of people remain trapped in the conflict areas. The registration lists of IDPs are being cross-checked and verified to avoid duplication. The overall figures remain largely unchanged since the last situation report. There are approximately 58,000 registered IDPs overall, with the largest numbers in Sa'ada town, Baqim, Haradhh, Al Mazrak, and Khaiwan. A new influx of IDPs from Harf Sufyan has been reported, but the numbers are unconfirmed.

The IDPs living in host communities, and those hosting them, are exposed to over-crowding and an increased risk of conflict, unhygienic living conditions, and diminishing supplies of basic supplies such as food. The IDPs in camps face all of the above as well as being more exposed to natural hazards, irregular access to sanitation and other basic services, in addition to having less personal security.

Humanitarian access and communication inside Sa'ada governorate continues to be extremely limited largely due to insecurity, which is severely hampering the assessment of, and responses to, the humanitarian needs. While it is possible to deliver humanitarian supplies to Sa'ada town as demonstrated by WHO, the majority of humanitarian agencies are unable to distribute them. Terrestrial telephone lines inside Sa'ada have been cut as of 07 September, further impeding the flow of information about the situation on the ground.

The humanitarian situation in Baqim is of increasing concern. Although MSF and the Yemeni Red Crescent Society (YRCS) are providing assistance including medicine, water, food, shelter and non-food items (NFIs), the needs are increasing due to depleting food supplies and rising costs. The NFIs are being stored and prepared for dispatching to the area, and an inter-agency UN assessment team is ready to travel to Baqim through Saudi Arabia, pending the issuance of visas.

The access of UN agencies to Al Jawf has long been restricted due to tribal conflicts and limited government control of the area. An INGO assessment mission on 30 August reported that militia checkpoints are controlling some of the roads. They estimated there to be 3,500 IDPs (500 families) in the governorate; the exact number is unclear since many locations were inaccessible to the team. The most urgent need is food, followed by NFIs, tents, hygiene kits, latrines, and medicines. UNHCR have indicated their readiness to provide MSF with NFIs for the estimated 500 IDP families.

An inter-agency mission was conducted on 02 September to the newly-established Al-Mazrak camp in Haradh (Hajjah district), where 388 families (2000 individuals) are residing. Much progress had been made since the last visit, but some basic challenges remain with regard to infrastructure and water supplies.

III. Humanitarian Needs and Response

Camp Coordination and Camp Management (CCCM)

Agencies have reported that some IDPs are carrying weapons in camps (notably Hajjah and Al Mazrak). On 01 September, the government issued instructions that no one is allowed to carry or keep weapons inside the camps, and security has been reinforced.

In Amran, about 40 percent of the displaced population is occupying schools, clinics and barns. The location of a new camp site was agreed on 05 September and is being established in Khaiwan; registration will begin on 09 September. Once completed, it is expected to host around 500 families. A UNHCR site planner has arrived on a 10-day mission to design the layout of the camp site. Agencies have raised concerns over the size of the camp, its proximity to the conflict zone and the high rate of tribal insecurity in the area. In the first CCCM, shelter and NFI sub-cluster meeting on 07 September, the government assured inter-agency representatives that the tribal security issues would be resolved in time for the camp to start receiving IDPs. As yet, there are no water tanks, latrines, power, or erected tents.

Al Mazrak camp in Haradh was established two weeks ago and is currently housing 388 registered families. The majority of these IDPs originate from the Malaheet district in Sa'ada governorate. At least 30 percent of them have arrived with their cattle, which is the source of their livelihood, and they prefer to sleep outside the camps in order to be near their herds. Another group known as "Al Akhdam", a marginalized community from Sa'ada, has also sought shelter in the camp. The government has provided the camp with two generators as well as 140 tents through the Yemeni Economic Cooperation. Water remains a problem in Al Mazrak camp; UNICEF is contacting the District Council to improve the situation (see WASH section below).

Emergency Shelter and Non-Food Items (NFIs)

Some US$1.9 million out of the $2.5 million grant approved by UNHCR headquarters to respond to the emergency will be directed towards the procurement of emergency shelter and NFIs. A shipment of 25,000 blankets, 6,000 kitchen sets, 6,000 plastic sheets and 300 tents is expected to arrive at the port of Aden on 08 September 2009.

In Hajjah/Haradh, UNHCR distributed the following NFIs to 475 families: 3,083 mattresses, 3,282 blankets, 781 kitchen sets, 1,260 sanitary napkins, 1,260 plastic sheets, 351 tents and 2 plastic rolls. Outside the camp, UNHCR in partnership with Al Amel, an NGO, continued the distribution of NFIs, including 2,977 mattresses, 6,161 blankets and 2,983 kitchen sets.

In Amran, IDPs are in urgent need of NFIs, hygiene kits and water filters. UNHCR has dispatched NFIs for 300 families, including tents; it is anticipated that distribution to the IDPs will commence shortly.

Food Aid

As of 17 September, over 162 tons of food aid has been distributed since mid-August, reaching over 13,000 beneficiaries. The majority of this assistance was distributed in Haijah governorate (115 tons) and Al Sam camp (33 tons), close to Sa'ada town, largely due to access problems in other areas. Food distribution is ongoing, although challenges related to crowd control and insecurity as well as the process of verifying beneficiary registration lists have slowed distributions in Hajjah. Trucks are ready to be dispatched from Sana'a to Amran as soon as registration lists have been verified.

WFP is stockpiling commodities and is ready to dispatch additional food supplies to Sa'ada town and camps as soon as humanitarian agencies gain access to these areas. Since the main road through Amran is still closed, WFP is evaluating alternative transport corridors to the governorate, including through Al Jawf and Saudi Arabia.

Following the 05 September meeting with the Minster of Health, agencies were given the clearance to distribute goods to IDPs in Al Jawf. WFP is prepared to dispatch ready-to-eat food as well as full food baskets to families as soon as preliminary findings from assessment teams are received. Due to restrictions on UN access to Al Jawf, INGOs (MSF Spain, ADRA and Islamic Relief) have offered to assist with registrations and distributions.

Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH)

On 02 September, an inter-agency mission was conducted to the newly-established Al-Mazrak camp in Haradh (Hajjah district), where 388 families are residing. UNICEF is providing water and sanitation for the camp and has constructed eight temporary latrines so far. Some 20 additional latrines will be constructed by the end of this week (14 will be allocated for women and girls), and 300 trash cans are being distributed for waste collection. At least 10 additional water tanks (2,000 litres) are under procurement for delivery to Haradh by the end of this week, together with 300 silver water filters and 500 hygiene kits.

More support on WASH is needed, specifically additional toilets for women (who represent the majority of the adults staying in the camps) as well as bathing/hand washing facilities. Oxfam, under the leadership of its new incoming WASH expert, is currently conducting assessments of the same camp to provide additional support on these WASH issues. Oxfam will also provide WASH services in the new IDP camp in Amran, which is expected to host around 500 families. The ICRC is providing water and sanitation assistance in the 3 camps of Sa'ada city, and plans to provide assistance to 2,500 households in a new camp settlement in Bakim together with MSF.

Health and Nutrition

There are no reports of disease outbreaks to date. So far, WHO and the Ministry of Health have sent a total of 10 tons of medical supplies to Sa'ada, and mobile health units in Haradh and Amran are operational and delivering services.The most common diseases reported by the mobile health units in Al-Mabda'a and Al-Batna areas near Harf Sufyan are diarrhoeal disease, acute respiratory infections, malnutrition, malaria and skin diseases.

WHO is the only UN Agency providing assistance in Al Jawf, having dispatched medical supplies and two mobile health units. Medical supplies sent by WHO were received in Al-Jawf on 06 September and the department of health immediately began the distribution of supplies to health facilities among the communities hosting IDPs.

From 7-9 September, a rapid assessment of the nutritional status of children under-five inside and outside camps is being conducted by the Ministry of Health, UNICEF and other partners. Nutritional supplies and equipment are already pre-positioned in Haradh and 57 health workers and trained volunteers are available to treat severe acute malnourished children once cases are identified through the rapid assessment.

Protection & Education

In addition to displacements and casualties, the current conflict has resulted in separation, injuries, loss and damage of property, as well as psychological trauma. The most vulnerable groups among the displaced are pregnant and lactating women, persons and children with disabilities, the elderly and the very young, as well as adolescent girls. Children who are displaced or have dropped out of school are particularly at risk of abuse, exploitation and neglect; there is some evidence that children in Sa'ada have been pushed to work in qat picking and are being paid in qat. As a result of the conflict, almost all districts in Sa'ada have seen a reduction of school enrolment (up to 21 percent) for the 2009/10 school year.

In Haradh, UNHCR has identified 43 people with special needs inside camps and 16 outside the camps. A list of vulnerable cases is being prepared by Charitable Society for Social Welfare (CSSW). Save the Children is establishing "child-friendly spaces" and has erected two tents with playgrounds and sports facilities for almost 200 children from 3 to 16 years of age. In preparation for the new school year, UNICEF is working with local education officials and the Deputy Governor's office to obtain estimates of the number of IDPs of school age in the camp. Nextweek, the Ministry of Social Affairs is also leading a rapid assessment of the psychosocial support needs of children and women in the camp.

UNHCR estimates that 60 percent of IDPs in Amran are women and children. Some have reported lost documents and others are traumatized. Women lack sanitary supplies and, due to cultural norms, feel unable to express themselves freely. UNHCR will provide psychosocial counseling. Other protection issues, including advocacy with the government to replace lost documents, will be addressed through the Protection Working Group.


On 05 September, WFP raised concerns to the Minister of Telecommunications regarding the delayed clearance of telecommunications equipment that are vital to field operations. The Minister was positive that the VSAT equipment will be released shortly, but clarified that Thuraya satellite phones were not allowed. However, he is looking into the potential for Yemen Telecom to provide communication services.

IV. Coordination and Funding

A meeting with the Vice-Chair of the High-Level Relief Committee, the Minister of Health, took place on 05 September to review progress and challenges.

The Yemen Flash Appeal for US$23.75 million, launched on 02 September, has received no funding as of 07 September 2009. On 06 September, the UN Resident Coordinator chaired a donors' meeting on the recently launched Appeal. Some donors enquired about the possibility of establishing an Emergency Response Fund (ERF) to facilitate the faster collection and dissemination of cash assistance. However, others were in favor of giving money directly to agencies according to their priorities.

Funding US$
% Funded
0 %
Shelter &NFIs
0 %
0 %
0 %
0 %
Emergency Education
0 %
0 %
0 %
Grand Total (US$)
0 %

All humanitarian aid is tracked through the Financial Tracking Service (FTS) and is reliant on information provided by donors and recipient agencies. Please inform FTS of all contributions (cash and in-kind) by sending an email to:

VI. Contacts

UNRC, Sana'a:
Ms. Pratibha Mehta, Resident Coordinator for Yemen - + 967 71 222 2200

OCHA, Cairo:
Mr. Abdul Haq Amiri, Head of OCHA Regional Office - + 20 16 861 5339

OCHA, New York:
Ms. Stephanie Bunker, Spokesperson and Public Information Officer - + 1 917 892 1679

OCHA, New York:
Mr. Charles Bernimolin, Humanitarian Affairs Officer - + 1 917 640 6399

OCHA, Sana'a:
Mr. Carlos Geha, Humanitarian Affairs Officer - +967 1448 605

OCHA, Geneva:
Ms. Elisabeth Byrs, Spokesperson and Public Information Officer - +41 79 473 4570

All situation reports from OCHA and individual agencies can also be found on OCHA's website for humanitarian information on complex emergencies and natural disasters:


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