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Yemen: UN appeal remains unfunded as thousands flee fighting through desert

11 September 2009 – The United Nations voiced increasing alarm today over the plight of 150,000 people driven from their homes by fighting in northern Yemen, noting that the $23 million emergency appeal it launched nine days ago has not yet received a single cent.

UN agencies are using funds from the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF), set up to finance sudden-onset or under-funded crises, and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has approved a $2.5 million loan pending responses to last week’s ‘flash appeal’ for internally displaced persons (IDPs) from Sa’ada and Amran governorates.

“IDPs from Al Malaheet (Sa’ada governorate) who fled to Amran – mostly women and children – arrived traumatized and exhausted, having spent three to five days walking in the desert before reaching the camp in Khaiwan,” the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said.

The total number of IDPs stands at around 150,000, including 95,000 people affected by previous fighting between Government forces and rebels on top of the 55,000 affected by more intense combat over the past two months, according to OCHA.

Humanitarian access and communication inside Sa'ada governorate continues to be extremely limited largely due to insecurity. Fixed telephone lines are still down and mobile telephone coverage has been down since the beginning of the conflict.

The main roads out of Sa’ada remain closed, leaving many IDPs trapped. Some IDPs have been leaving on foot on the mountain roads, and agencies are exploring alternative transport corridors including through Al Jawf and Saudi Arabia.

In camps in Haradh in Hajjah governorate, work to install communal latrines supplied by the district authorities is continuing and the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has delivered 10 additional water tanks. A shipment of 25,000 blankets, 6,000 kitchen sets, 6000 plastic sheets and 300 tents arrived in Aden, southern Yemen, from Dubai on Tuesday and have now been cleared by customs.

As of 8 September, 170 metric tons of food had been distributed to 14,917 IDPs in camps in Hajjah and Sa’ada town, and the UN World Food Programme (WFP) has completed one month's food distribution for all 12,404 IDPs registered around Hajjah.

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