GENEVA, Oct 13 (KUNA) -- The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said Tuesday that a cross-border convoy carrying aid for some 2,000 people stranded close to Yemen's border with Saudi Arabia crossed into Yemen at the town of Alb on Sunday.
UNHCR Spokesperson Andrej Mahecic told reporters that the distribution of tents, mattresses, blankets, plastic sheeting, jerry cans and hygiene items is scheduled to take place today.
He stressed that the arrival of UNHCR's aid would not have been possible without close collaboration between the Saudi and Yemeni authorities and UNHCR. According to a recent government assessment, there are between 3,000-4,000 displaced people in the border area, most of them in need of assistance and in a desperate situation after fleeing from the northern districts of Saada province. Mahecic described the situation in the north of Yemen remains tense and volatile. He added that the civilian population of Saada governorate continues to flee to the surrounding provinces as the fighting between government troops and Al Houti forces shows no sign of abating. As street battles continue in the city of Saada, the humanitarian situation continues to worsen. Many shops and stores have run out of basic commodities and supplies. Electricity is available from 6pm to midnight and access to the only remaining functioning market is now blocked. Water supplies are available just twice a week. UNHCR's local partner continues to register internally displaced people (IDPs) in the city of Saada, despite the surrounding conflict.
Andrej Mahecic noted that the security situation surrounding the IDP camp in Khaiwan in Amran governorate is of serious concern to UNHCR. Due to several incidents over the past three days, UNHCR has requested the government to suspend further development of the site and not to move the new IDPs there. At the same time, UNHCR appeals to the government to allow the UN to start the distribution of aid to IDPs outside the camp.
In Hajjah governorate, said Andrej Mahecic, the influx of IDPs to Al Mazrak camp continues, increasing the need to establish the second camp at a site identified five kilometers from Al Mazrak. "We are working closely with the local authorities to ensure the speedy and efficient establishment of this second camp," he said. According to an estimated 150,000 Yemenis have been affected by the fighting in the north since 2004, including those displaced by the latest escalation.
The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) said that it has now been eight weeks since fighting escalated in northern Yemen and humanitarian agencies are yet to be allowed access to the vast majority of the 150,000 persons, mostly children and women, displaced by the conflict and to the thousands of others who remain stranded inside the conflict zone.
UNICEF spokesperson Veronique Taveau told reporters that in the governorate of Hajjah, where an estimated 20,000 internally displaced persons have sought shelter, her organization has been providing life-saving assistance to displaced persons in Al Mazraq camp as well as those scattered in nearby areas. She added that thousands more displaced persons remain in urgent need of similar assistance, but lack of security is preventing access. Taveau noted that Saudi Arabia recently said it would allow humanitarian agencies to use its route to deliver urgently needed supplies displaced people trapped in the border region near the town of Baquim. UNICEF, she said, and other agencies will be using this route as soon as the necessary visas are granted.
Egyptian actor and UNICEF Regional Ambassador Mahmoud Kabil will be traveling to Yemen on 18-20 October to learn about and highlight the impact of the current fighting on children. He will be meeting with government officials and visiting the Al Mazraq camp for displaced persons. (end) KUNA 131530 Oct 09NNNN