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YEMEN: Government assesses damage in Saada region

SANAA, 11 November 2007 (IRIN) - A government committee charged with assessing war damage in conflict-affected Saada province, in northern Yemen, said that its report has so far registered 3,375 cases of damage to public and private property in six out of Saada’s 15 districts.

Mutahar Rashad al-Masri, chairman of the committee and also governor of Saada, said it would continue to assess damage in three other districts of Saada and would finish its report by the end of November. He refused to give further details but analysts have expressed hope that a failed peace agreement might be revisited if the government completes this survey and begins reconstruction.

Tension between followers of Shia rebel leader Abdul-Malik al-Houthi and government forces has led to intermittent clashes between the two sides since 2004, escalating at the beginning of 2007.

In June, a Qatari government reconciliation team engineered a peace agreement under which the government was to reconstruct war-affected areas of Saada on the condition that rebels came down from the mountains and surrendered their weapons. The government was to facilitate the safe return of some 56,000 people displaced by fighting, reconstruct destroyed houses and release detainees from Saada.

Peace agreement collapsed

The peace agreement soon collapsed with both sides claiming the other was not living up to its commitments. The Qatar team left Yemen in mid-August expressing dismay with both sides. Sporadic clashes resumed.

In addition, a national committee formed to supervise the peace agreement stopped working immediately after the Qatar team left. “There is no official information [on the Saada peace process] and no continuation of the committee’s efforts. We just hear there are sporadic clashes between the two warring parties,” Aidarous al-Naqeeb, a member of mediation committee, told IRIN.

Al-Naqeeb said that his committee had made much progress in restoring stability to the area, allowing many of the displaced to return home, but warned that without full compliance from both sides civilians would continue to suffer.

“I have called on the two warring parties to take this opportunity [of peace]. I hope the situation does not deteriorate once again, especially as the peace agreement has not been fully implemented,” he said.

Of the 56,000 displaced, the majority have returned home, according to Medical Charitable Association (MCA), a local NGO. MCA added that about 7,500 people are still displaced, of whom 2,100 live in camps and the rest with host families.

The International Committee of the Red Cross, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the UN World Food Programme, and a number of local NGOs have been delivering aid to Saada since February.



Copyright © IRIN 2007
This material comes to you via IRIN, the humanitarian news and analysis service of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. The opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the United Nations or its Member States.
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