This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Matthew Saltmarsh – to whom quoted text may be attributed – at today's press briefing at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.
After weeks of intense negotiations, UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, has reached the embattled district of Mokha in Yemen’s western governorate of Taizz, where hostilities between the warring parties have escalated since January.
Intensified fighting has led to more than 48,000 people being displaced from Taizz in the past six weeks alone. Humanitarian access to Mokha, a flashpoint of hostilities and one of the worst affected areas within the governorate, has been particularly challenging owing to ongoing clashes and movement restrictions imposed by parties to the conflict.
UNHCR teams went on mission to Mokha this week and started distributions on Monday in an area close to the frontlines. More than 3,416 individuals affected by the conflict received non-food assistance from UNHCR, which included mattresses, sleeping mats, blankets, kitchen sets and wash buckets.
The majority of those displaced by hostilities in Taizz have fled to other parts of the governorate. UNHCR’s distributions in Mokha were provided to people who were displaced from other villages in the district.
UNHCR’s field staff reported many were traumatised and living in desperate conditions, lacking water and sanitation and sharing limited resources with local host communities. Those displaced were being accommodated by local families or living out in the open, without any protection. Many informed UNHCR that this was the first time they had received humanitarian non-food assistance.
This latest distribution supplements UNHCR’s previous distributions to those freshly displaced from intensified violence in Taizz. More than 18,151 individuals recently displaced from the Red Sea governorate were also reached by UNHCR assistance in nearby governorates of Al Hudaydah and Ibb. With the military situation remaining highly volatile on Yemen’s western front and hostilities extending, UNHCR has also secured access in six other districts in Taizz and will reach more than 42,000 people with emergency assistance in the coming days in Dhubab, Al Wazi’iyah, Mawza, Al Ma’afer, Maqbanah and Mawiyah.
Separately, in central Yemen, where 13,900 people were displaced by a recent flare up in hostilities in Utmah district, Dhamar governorate, UNHCR has also started distribution of aid to those now returning home. UNHCR distributions in Utmah started on Wednesday to assist more than 7,700 conflict-returnees.
With March marking two years since the beginning of the current conflict in Yemen, 11.3 per cent of Yemen’s population has been forcibly displaced by the war. There are two million people displaced across Yemen and one million have returned home to precarious conditions.
As conflict in Yemen drags, 84 per cent of those uprooted from their homes have now been displaced for more than a year, struggling to meet basic needs including food and shelter.
Despite new and prolonged waves of displacement in Yemen, humanitarian agencies, including UNHCR, remain significantly underfunded to respond to prioritised and emerging needs. UNHCR’s response to urgent humanitarian needs in Yemen remains only 10 per cent funded to date.
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