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September 24, 10

NEWS / Clashes spark new displacement in southern Yemen, UN agency reports

24 September 2010 – Fresh fighting between Government forces and militants has driven thousands of people from their homes in south-east Yemen, the United Nations refugee agency said today, voicing hope that all possible measures are being taken to prevent casualties among civilians.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) estimates that the violence has forced at least 4,000 Yemenis to flee from Al-Hawtah village and surrounding settlements, some 400 kilometres from Aden.

“Reports indicate that displacement continues to grow,” agency spokesperson Andrej Mahecic told reporters today in Geneva.

Most of the uprooted are seeking safety and shelter in neighbouring villages, while UNHCR’s reception centre, where new arrivals from the Horn of Africa are registered, is some 30 kilometres away in Mayfa’a.

A UNHCR local partner reached Al-Azzem village earlier this week, reporting that displaced people are sheltering with host families. The local school is accommodating dozens of people.

Initial reports also indicate that some of the uprooted are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance, mainly food, shelter and medical supplies.

UNHCR is in close contact with Yemeni authorities, who have already begun distributing aid, as well as with other humanitarian agencies on the ground.

A UN team is carrying out a rapid assessment mission today to more accurately establish the size of displacement and identify immediate needs. UNHCR and other agencies are pre-positioning aid for 300 families – or 2,100 people – at the Mafya’a reception centre.

“We are poised to scale up our assistance should that become necessary,” Mr. Mahecic said. “We have considerable resources in the country due to the continuing refugee flow from the Horn of Africa and internal displacement caused by last year’s conflict in the north of the country.”

Nearly 170,000 Somali refugees have been registered by UNHCR in Yemen while more than 300,000 Yemenis are still uprooted following the seven-month conflict between Government troops and Al Houthi rebels.




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