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YEMEN: Emergency EU aid for conflict-hit region

SANAA, 10 July 2008 (IRIN) - The European Commission Humanitarian Aid Office (ECHO) has approved one million euros [about US$1.57 million] in emergency humanitarian aid to support those affected by conflict in Saada Governorate, northern Yemen.

The funds would be used to help displaced families and people wounded in the fighting. The relief assistance would include food and non-food items, shelter, sanitation and health services.

"Since early June, the situation has worsened and civilians are fleeing the fierce fighting that affects most of the governorate. It is estimated that at least 77,000 people are directly affected and the figure may even exceed 100,000," ECHO said in a statement on 7 July.

There were about 12,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) in six camps dotted around Saada city. Another 30,000 IDPs were living with host families, and some 15,000 were outside Saada city, ECHO said.

"The influx of newly displaced families has increased the need for shelter. Access to food and drinking water is also becoming an issue, against the backdrop of higher world food prices."

Access to the Saada Governorate was difficult as the road between Saada and Sanaa was often cut, it noted.


Photo: Mohammed al-Jabri/IRIN
A military unit in Yemen's Saada Province. Local sources told IRIN the army was preparing an extensive attack with the help of thousands of tribesmen to end the rebellion
Worsening situation

Abdul-Aziz Ali, head of the Information and Political Department at the opposition Yemeni Socialist Party office in Saada, told IRIN the humanitarian situation was worsening: hospitals were unable to take in new patients as they were overcrowded; aid services were inadequate, and more and more people were joining the IDPs camps.

"People's suffering is increasing by the day. A lot of the displaced beg [for food]. The region is still immersed in darkness. Diesel has become a black market commodity," he said.

He said the situation had created psychological stress among IDPs and their lives had been shattered.

Food items were available but expensive. "Farmers in Saada Governorate were prevented from selling their products [fruit and vegetables] outside Saada, as the authorities believed they were using part of the proceeds to aid the rebels," he said.

Bombs

Meanwhile, rebel leader Abdul-Malik al-Houthi's Information Office said on 7 July that planes had bombed villages in Harf Sufian in Amran Governorate, near Saada, destroying dozens of houses. It said there were fierce clashes in Saada Governorate and Bani Hushaish District, 20km northwest of Sanaa. These allegations could not be independently verified.

Fighting between Shia pro-al-Houthi rebels and government troops flared up again in May 2008 after the collapse of a Qatari-brokered peace mediation effort.

Local sources told IRIN the army was preparing an extensive attack with the help of thousands of tribesmen to end the rebellion in Saada Governorate, Harf Sufian District and Bani Hushaish District, which has been going on intermittently since 2004.

maj/ar/cb

Theme (s): Aid Policy, Conflict, Early Warning, Refugees/IDPs,

[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]

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