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Yemen: Increasing displacement challenges humanitarian agencies

22 Jun 2011


IDPs next to their tents in Mazraq Camp. Up to 270,000 people had been displaced by the latest flare-up. Credit: IRIN/Adel Yahya
Increasing numbers of people continue to be displaced in south Yemen due to the ongoing conflict in Abyan, testing the limits of humanitarian capacity.

Continuous conflict in Abyan, Southern Yemen, has resulted in increasing numbers of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) fleeing to neighboring districts. According to the latest OCHA situation report, currently there are 10,000 IDPs from Abyan in Lahj and 15,000 in Aden. Another 15,000 IDPs are said to be scattered around conflict areas in Abyan, but the number cannot be confirmed due to limited access to the area.

Most of the IDPs in Lahj are living with host families, while in Aden they are living in 33 schools. Reports of intense combat between security forces and militant groups in Lahj raise concerns about a second displacement of IDPs from Abyan.

A mission comprising several humanitarian agencies took place on 12 June in order to identify the numbers and needs of displaced people. Shelter, food, water, protection, and health care are urgently needed in Aden and Lahj. Information on humanitarian needs within Abyan Governorate remains difficult, but a preliminary assessment indicates the main emergency need for IDPs in Abyan is food.

200 new cases of cholera have been reported in Abyan Governorate. Humanitarian workers are exploring ways of working with local communities to prevent and control cholera outbreaks.

Food assistance is being provided to approximately 22,000 people in Aden and Lahj. The distribution of non-food items (NFIs) such as clothes, blankets, kitchen sets, and soap is also ongoing in these two areas. Water, sanitation, and hygiene partners are establishing water systems at strategic locations in the south for IDPs. 

Two mobile clinics are now delivering medical assistance to IDPs in Aden and one mobile team is operational in Lahj. Trauma and emergency health kits have been distributed to field and referral hospitals in Aden for those with minor injuries.

However, if the number of IDPs continues to increase, current humanitarian capacity may prove insufficient. Lack of fuel might further exacerbate the situation as several humanitarian activities such as health care, water, and sanitation rely on fuel to function.

More>> OCHA Situation Report #2