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Press centre


Statement by Sigrid Kaag, UNICEF Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa about the escalation in Northern Yemen

AMMAN/GENEVA, 13 November 2009 – “UNICEF is deeply concerned about the escalation of the conflict in northern Yemen.

“Fighting has now spilled into Saudi Arabia, reportedly causing 240 villages to be evacuated and more than 50 schools to be closed.

“The total number of people displaced by the conflict since 2004 has gone up to more than 175,000, from an estimated 150,000 only a few weeks ago. Most of these are still without access to basic humanitarian services and many have been displaced more than once. 

“The displaced population at al-Mazraq camp in the governorate of Hajjah has more than doubled in four weeks, reaching an estimated 15,000 persons. Another 28,000 displaced persons are living outside of the camp.

“During the past three months, children affected by the conflict in the north have seen all their basic rights violated. Lack of safe water, nutrition and hygiene is exerting a heavy toll on their health and well-being and threatening their very survival – a situation that will only get worse with the coming of winter.

"Deaths have been recorded among children in the camp as malnutrition, already a chronic problem in Yemen, is reaching alarming levels. More than 600 children are suffering from severe acute malnutrition and are receiving treatment.

"Given the resources available in the region, it is inconceivable that the children of Yemen should die of malnutrition. Urgent action and additional support are required.

“UNICEF urges all parties to ensure that children are protected from violence and that they receive the assistance they need. It renews its call for immediate, safe and unfettered access to the affected populations and for the opening of safe corridors to provide innocent civilians with the relief supplies that they urgently need.”

For further information, please contact:

Abdel-Rahman Ghandour, UNICEF Regional Office for the Middle East and North Africa,
Tel +962-79-700-4567,
E-mail: arghandour@unicef.org

Patrick McCormick, UNICEF New York,
Tel + 1 212 326 7426
E-mail: pmccormick@unicef.org




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