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Yemen: UN relief agencies rush assessment teams, supplies to crisis-torn country

7 April 2015 – Amid ongoing heavy fighting in Yemen, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says that a plane carrying humanitarian staff landed yesterday in the capital, Sana'a, and two more planes carrying medical supplies are expected later this week.

Stéphane Dujarric, Spokesperson for the UN Secretary-General, said today OCHA announced plans are also underway for surgical teams to sail from Djibouti to Aden as soon as possible.

"In the last 24 hours, about 12 metric tonnes of medical supplies have arrived in Aden from Al Hudaydah, and distributed to health centres and hospitals," he said, adding that medical assistance has also been delivered in Sa'ada. Monthly food supplies have been distributed to more than 300 displaced families in Hajjah.

OCHA reports that some 159 stranded Ethiopian migrants have returned home from Djibouti, including 131 people who had been stranded en route to Yemen, and 28 who were evacuated from Yemen by sea.

Meanwhile in Geneva, Christophe Boulierac, for the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF), said with conflict escalating in many parts of Yemen, children continue to be killed, injured, displaced and put at increasing risk from disease. He emphasized that those children should be immediately afforded special respect and protection by all parties to the conflict, in line with international humanitarian law.

He said that wherever security conditions permitted, UNICEF teams were working with partners to provide families with safe water and essential health services. The agency is providing fuel for the running of water supply pumping in three cities in the south, including Aden, where water systems had been repeatedly damaged in the fighting.

UNICEF is providing diesel to power generators to keep vaccine stores safe. Supplies prepositioned by the children's organization in various cities are being put to use and supplies of therapeutic food for young children and oral rehydration salts - a simple but highly effective treatment for diarrheal disease - were being procured.

"The conflict is exacerbating the already precarious situation for children in one of the region's poorest countries, with much of the country prone to food insecurity and with severe acute malnutrition widespread among young children, and with an increasing number for violations of child's rights these last years," said Mr. Boulierac, reiterating UNICEF's warning that in the coming weeks, the discontinuation of basic health services and the deteriorating water and sanitation situation would lead to an increase in health needs, especially among women and children.

The situation in Yemen has been rapidly deteriorating since the country formed a new Government in November 2014 aimed at ending a period of political turbulence and bringing about a full transition towards democracy. The country continued to be plagued by violence and political demonstrations despite UN efforts to bring about a peaceful political resolution.

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