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Yemenis in Taiz Receive Emergency Aid

by Lisa Schlein February 16, 2016

The United Nations refugee agency has delivered desperately needed emergency relief supplies to thousands of people in the besieged Yemeni city of Taiz.

After more than three weeks of negotiations, the U.N. refugee agency entered Taiz on Sunday. The agency has delivered blankets, mattresses and other emergency relief assistance for 1,000 families affected by Yemen's civil war.

Taiz has seen intense fighting during the past 10 months. Houthi rebels have prevented most humanitarian aid from getting through to the city's 200,000 inhabitants for nearly six months.

UNHCR spokesman Andreas Needham says agency representative Johannes Van Der Klaauw oversaw the distribution of the aid and witnessed the critical needs of the people who have been deprived of life-saving assistance.

Needham told VOA Van der Klaauw hopes the delivery is not a one-time occurrence.

"He said that he hoped that it would not be, that it would be a prelude for sustained access of delivery of various types of aid and that it would include from our partners, the WHO (World Health Organization) and ICRC (International Committee of the Red Cross) as you mentioned for essential medical supplies. And, he also reiterated our call for sustained and unhindered access for all humanitarian actors," Needham said.

Last week, the World Health Organization delivered more than 20 tons of medical supplies to Taiz. WHO spokeswoman Fadela Chaib says conditions in the city are life-threatening.

"Many hospitals have been forced to close their intensive care units due to a lack of fuel, medicines and health staff and patients with chronic medical conditions, such as diabetes, kidney disease and cancer are struggling to access essential medicines and dialysis centers," she said.

Chaib said the WHO hopes to distribute an additional 40 tons of medicines and medical supplies across the country in the coming weeks.

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