a displaced Yemeni family outside its shelter in the camp of Al-Suwaidan in the city of Marib, Yemen | Photo: ARCHIVE/UNHCR/Jihad Al-Nahari
a displaced Yemeni family outside its shelter in the camp of Al-Suwaidan in the city of Marib, Yemen | Photo: ARCHIVE/UNHCR/Jihad Al-Nahari

The UN refugee agency UNHCR has expressed deep concern for the safety and security of civilians in the governorate of Marib, in Yemen, including over half a million of displaced people. As fighting shifts closer to densely populated areas, people's lives are in danger and access to humanitarian aid is becoming harder, the agency said.

The UN refugee agency UNHCR on Tuesday (November 23) warned that the further escalation of the conflict will only increase the vulnerability of people in Marib, in particular for those who have been forced to flee. The agency is calling for an immediate ceasefire in Yemen to halt further suffering.

According to UN data, about 40,000 people have been forced to flee in Marib since September. This represents nearly 70% of all displacements in this south-eastern governorate since the beginning of the year.

Marib now hosts half of the estimated 120,000 newly displaced countrywide in 2021.

New displacements exacerbating humanitarian needs

The new displacement is exacerbating the existing humanitarian needs, UNHCR said. The need for shelter, essential household items, water and sanitation, education and protection services, particularly for children, has increased drastically, UNHCR said in its statement.

Diseases like acute watery diarrhea, malaria and upper respiratory tract infections are common among the newly displaced. Therefore it is necessary to carry out screenings to provide healthcare and prevent the spread of communicable diseases, the UN agency explained. Families fleeing the Sirwah district are reportedly among the most vulnerable.

In recent weeks, many have fled intensified armed clashes, which led to the closure of five UNHCR-managed accommodation sites. Some of these families have already been displaced five times since the start of the conflict in 2015.

Strikes causing panic among displaced

Meanwhile, rocket strikes close to the sites hosting the displaced are reportedly causing fear and panic. The latest incident was reported on November 17 when an artillery shell exploded, without casualties, near a site close to Marib City.

UNHCR teams report that there is heavy fighting in the mountains surrounding the city and the sound of explosions and planes can be heard day and night, the statement said.

UNHCR renewed the appeal to all parties in the conflict to protect civilians and infrastructure, including health and education facilities, and displacement sites.

Since the beginning of the new offensive in Marib in September, the UN agency said it has reached over 2,000 displaced families with emergency relief assistance. So far this year, the agency has provided cash assistance to over 66,500 families in Marib.

UNHCR, according to its own information, is working hard to reach people with legal assistance and psychological support. Mobile protection activities in the sites and urban areas have been strenghtened to assess needs. The UNHCR stressed that humanitarian support remains limited.


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