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Yemen: Humanitarian needs for the newly-displaced in the South remain high

07 Jul 2011


Humanitarian needs for the newly-displaced in the South remain high
Newly displaced people in south Yemen urgently need food, water, shelter, protection, and health care. However, limited access and fuel shortages are making humanitarian assistance difficult.

The conflict in the southern Abyan Governorate of Yemen is leading to daily displacement as people flee fighting in the regional capital Zinjibar to neighbouring districts and other Governorates, including Aden and Lahj. The latest OCHA Situation Report notes that there are currently more than 15,610 IDPs in Aden, approximately 11,890 in Lahj, and an estimated 15,000 (unconfirmed) in Abyan.

Displaced communities urgently need emergency humanitarian aid such as food, water, shelter, protection, and healthcare. Humanitarian access to Abyan is severely constrained due to the volatile security situation, but humanitarian actors are trying to reach vulnerable people. IDPs are scattered which makes it is difficult to monitor the situation and profile them. Some agencies have been able to provide limited assistance such as non-food item packs, including mattresses, bed sheets, sanitary pads, towels, and soap. Food assistance continues in Lahj and Aden. However, as this large displacement in the south has happened suddenly, and people have left everything behind, there is high pressure for humanitarian workers to respond to food and other needs.

A rapid nutrition assessment of 30,000 IDPs in Lahj and Aden is evaluating the status of malnutrition in children under the age of five and among pregnant and lactating mothers. Emergency pre-positioned nutrition stocks have already been dispatched to southern Yemen and more are due to be sent soon.

Agencies report that more than 14,100 IDPs in the Aden, Lahj, and Abyan areas now have access to water. Distributions of hygiene kits, and cleaning materials for latrines and classrooms are being provided. However, in some areas, there is still a serious shortage of water, and the general sanitation and hygiene conditions in IDP living environments are extremely low. In some schools, water tanks have been replaced to prevent potential water contamination and reduce the risk of disease outbreaks such as cholera.

Six mobile medical units are assisting IDPs in the South. In response to the cholera outbreak, chlorine tablets are being distributed so that people can purify water. A measles and polio vaccination campaign, targeting approximately 8,000 children under the age of five, has started in Aden and Lahj. As health needs increase among IDPs, medical stocks are being sent to Aden.

The fuel crisis is also disrupting humanitarian assistance, including food distributions and health referrals. Logistics partners have been working on obtaining a regular supply of fuel, but the current fuel shortage is unlikely to be resolved in the short term as the political, security and economic situation remains tense and unpredictable.