Battles in Southern Yemen between the government and suspected Al Qaeda militants are causing a humanitarian crisis. Thousands have fled the fighting in the Abyan governorate.
The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) says over 2,000 families have sought refuge in 33 schools in the southern port city of Aden. WFP has surveyed the situation there and found that 90 percent of those displaced are entirely dependent on the host community for food needs.
WFP says more than half of those surveyed left their homes “without taking their own assets as well as their clothes.”
Others sold their assets to pay for transportation to escape the fighting. Some of the displaced moved in with relatives and friends in Aden only to find that this overtaxed the resources of their hosts.The only alternative then was to move to one of the displacement centers.
The needs are great. The WFP survey found that clothes, food rations, pediatric milk and cold potable water, mattresses, bed sheets, sanitary pads, towels, soaps, and washing powder were all needed. Some of the displaced require medical and psychological care.
There is also a lack of sanitation services in 50 percent of the schools hosting the displaced.
WFP also noted a “[w]eakness in coordination between UN/NGOs, local government authorities & civil society organizations to identify emergency needs by each actor in order to facilitate timely provision of humanitarian assistance to all genuine/vulnerable IDPs and enable all to avoid duplication in assistance delivery.”
This coordination will need to improve quickly, especially as more people flee to Aden as the fighting in Southern Yemen escalates.
The WFP report recommends developing several centers to host the displaced, and intensive screening for health issues and child nutrition levels.
Humanitarian needs exist throughout Yemen as the political unrest has driven up food prices. Even before the unrest unfolded, hunger and malnutrition rates were high in the country. The World Food Programme, UNICEF, and other agencies are short on funding to carry out their relief missions.
People are rallying to help organize relief, however. The Yemen Peace Project has a blog with information on ways to help those displaced in Southern Yemen.