New York - Earlier this week, UNHCR sent thirteen trucks carrying blankets, mattresses, and other badly needed emergency relief items to Taizz governorate in the highlands of the country's southwest. This was a breakthrough since it was the first time a UNHCR convoy made it through all the way from Aden to Taizz.
Dispatched in coordination with the Government of Yemen's High Relief Committee, the convoy arrived on Sunday in Mashra'a Wa Hadnan, a district immediately south of the embattled Taizz city centre. Distribution is starting this week for 500 displaced people, others who have returned to Taizz, plus local families who have been affected by the conflict.
Another 13 trucks are on their way to nearby Sabir Al Mawadim district and will be distributed among another 500 families. In Mashra'a Wa Hadnan the situation is now calm and some displaced families have been returning to their homes, while fighting persists on the eastern part of Sabir Al Mawadim.
The two districts host over 7,500 displaced people. It is the first time that assistance has been delivered there using the direct route from Aden,"The two districts host over 7,500 displaced people. It is the first time that assistance has been delivered there using the direct route from Aden," said UNHCR Representative in Yemen Johannes van der Klaauw. "The wider governorate of Taizz hosts 555,048 internally displaced people, the biggest concentration in the country and equal to almost a quarter of the 2.4 million total Yemen-wide," he added.
For months, UNHCR has been advocating for regular and sustained humanitarian access to Taizz city and governorate. Now, with key roads into Taizz reopened since March 11 after nine months of blocked access, UNHCR is taking advantage of the opportunity to get help to people who desperately need it. This includes aid, vital protection and shelter help.
While continued intense fighting is being reported in parts of Yemen, a lull in the conflict in other areas is opening space for UNHCR and other humanitarian organizations, including local humanitarian actors, to reach more people. To the north of Taizz, in Ibb governorate, which hosts over 100,000 displaced people, UNHCR is currently mapping how to address the needs. Further north, reduced violence along the Yemen-Saudi border over the last two weeks has allowed us to distribute emergency aid in Sa'ada. In coordination with relevant authorities, we're hoping further assessments of needs and distributions will be possible over the next days.
Later this week UNHCR and a partner will distribute emergency relief carried in a third convoy from Aden to the Ash Shamayatayn district of Taizz, an area that hosts 159,444 displaced people, according to our protection monitoring. Since October, UNHCR has been providing rental subsidies, cash assistance, legal assistance, and counseling as well as psychosocial care through a partner organisation.
"Ultimately, a halt to the hostilities remains the only way to end the suffering and ensure access to humanitarian aid across the country", said van der Klaauw. "UNHCR is hopeful that a lasting, country-wide ceasefire can be brokered among the parties as this will open up further space to provide essential humanitarian assistance on the ground."
UNHCR assistance in Taizz complements the work of other humanitarian partners, UN agencies, non-governmental organisations, the Government of Yemen and other humanitarian relief agencies including from the GCC countries. Country-wide, since March of last year up to this week, UNHCR has assisted 380,140 IDPs and other conflict-affected persons in all governorates in Yemen except the island of Socotra.
In addition to the 2.4 million people displaced internally, over 173,000 individuals have fled Yemen since last March into neighbouring countries, mainly in Djibouti, Ethiopia, Somalia, Sudan and the GCC countries.
The 2016 UNHCR Yemen Situation Supplementary Appeal received $12M in contributions, representing 7% of the required US$172.2M. UNHCR's response inside Yemen is 9% funded against the required US$125.98M.