More Than 2.4 Million People Displaced In Yemen

UNITED NATIONS, March 8 (Xinhua) -- The ongoing conflict in Yemen has forcibly displaced more than 2.4 million people in Yemen and the situation is likely to worsen in the Middle East country, warned UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric here Tuesday.

While a daily news briefing held here, Dujarric said the number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Yemen stood at around 2,430,178 since almost one year ago, quoting the statistic from the latest report on Yemen issued by the Special Task Force on Population Movement, led by UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

"The report added that the situation is likely to get worse, amid increasingly dire humanitarian and socio-economic conditions and with no political settlement in sight," Dujarric said. "UNHCR and IOM have stressed the need to keep humanitarian access open for deliveries of essential services."

Also on Tuesday, the UN special envoy to Yemen, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, concluded a four-day visit to Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia. He met with the Yemeni president, Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi, and several ministers in the government of Yemen, according to the UN spokesman.

The UN envoy also had constructive meetings with members of diplomatic corps and the secretary general of the Gulf Cooperation Council, Dr. Abdellatif Ben Rashid Al-Zayyani, in addition to Saudi counterparts. The special envoy will continue his diplomatic efforts in the region before announcing a new date for the next round of peace talks.

In briefing journalists in Geneva, Switzerland, Leo Dobbs, spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), said the number of people displaced within Yemen "remains staggeringly high and a cause for grave alarm."

The latest figure is slightly down from the 2.5 million reported by the Task Force in December, but the difference masks "the human face of the conflict and the continuing suffering and growing needs," said the UNHCR spokesperson.

The report showed increased levels of displacement in areas where the conflict has escalated, notably in the governorates of Taiz, Hajjah, Sana'a, Amran, and Sa'ada, which together account for 68 percent of all IDPs in Yemen.

UNHCR and IOM have called for ensuring access for deliveries of essential services.

"At the very least we implore all sides to allow humanitarian access to the hardest-hit areas, where most of the displaced are located," Dobbs said.

In the first two months of the year, some shipments of food and other life-saving aid were able to be delivered to the Yemeni city of Taiz.

Dobbs said that despite the severely restricted humanitarian access and security constraints, organizations such as UNHCR and IOM and partners have delivered household items and emergency shelter to more than 740,000 IDPs.

The needs are exhausting, according to the report. While most people seek shelter with relatives and friends, in schools, public or abandoned buildings, many live in makeshift shelters, or out in the open, with little or no protection.

The Yemen Humanitarian Response Plan, launched in Geneva last month, seeks 1.8 billion U.S. dollars for more than 100 humanitarian partners to provide critical and life-saving assistance to 13.6 million people in need.

The Plan, however, is currently just 2 percent funded.

The UN under-secretary-general for humanitarian affairs, Stephen O'Brien, said Thursday that since the start of the conflict in Yemen, more than 2,000 children have been killed and injured during the fighting in the country, including more than 90 deaths this year alone.

The Saudi-led coalition started daily air bombing on the Shiite Houthi rebels and their allied forces since March 2015, vowing to drive out the rebels and retrieve Sana'a.

Yemen has been mired in an all-out civil war since September 2014, when the Shiite Houthi group backed by forces loyal to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh invaded the capital Sanaa and drove President Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi into exile. The war has killed nearly 6,000 people.

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