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At a glance: Yemen

Humanitarian access still limited by conflict in Yemen

© UNICEF Yemen/2009/Ur-Rehman
A displaced family from Yemen’s northern Sa’ada province finds refuge at the Al-Mazrak camp in Harad district, located in the Hajja governorate.

NEW YORK, USA, 23 September 2009 – Humanitarian access is still limited in northern Yemen, where over 100,000 people have been displaced by fighting between government and rebel forces.

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UNICEF has expressed deep concern about reports that civilians, including children, died in a recent air raid on a camp for displaced people in the conflict zone. The agency has renewed its appeal for all parties in the conflict to ensure that children remain out of harm’s way and receive urgently needed assistance.

‘Working with local authorities’
UNICEF Representative in Yemen Aboudou Karimou Adjibadé has visited several of the camps for people displaced by fighting in the north.

"There are many children who are traumatized because of the experience of bombing, shelling and fighting close by in their villages. There are also women who are deprived of everything, even basic things like clothes," said Mr. Adjibadé.

"There are also people who came with their animals,” he added. “That is a problem for sanitation.” Noting that livestock represent the only savings that many displaced families managed to take with them, Mr. Adjibadé said UNICEF is “working with local authorities to make these camps clean and safe for women and children."

In camps located outside the conflict zone, UNICEF is providing water, sanitation and basic hygiene assistance, but thousands of the displaced are still out of reach. In fact, according to Mr. Adjibadé, a majority of the displaced are trapped in areas that are not safe for humanitarian access.

Education interrupted
The Yemeni school year is scheduled to begin on 4 October, and there are an estimated 50,000 school-aged children among the displaced population. UNICEF is preparing temporary learning spaces for children in the camps. However, this effort will address the needs of only a small fraction of the number of children in need.

© UNICEF Yemen/2009/Ur-Rehman
Displaced women and children collect water from one of the 20 tanks provided by UNICEF in the newly established camp at Al-Mazrak in northern Yemen.

"The problem now is that many [displaced persons] are not in camps. Some of them are in host communities," said Mr. Adjibadé.

To provide education to more displaced children, UNICEF is working with the Ministry of Education to ensure that they can enrol in schools in the host communities. UNICEF will provide teaching and learning materials in those communities to ease the burden for local schools.




18 September 2009: UNICEF Representative in Yemen Aboudou Karimou Adjibadé discusses the ongoing conflict there and its impact on families.
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