Monday, October 12, 2009

Yemen: UN official highlights Saada crisis

IDPs from Al Mazraq camp

“One of the reasons I’m here is to try to give a bit more profile to a conflict, and its humanitarian consequences, which had been fairly low on the list of the international media’s priorities,” UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator John Holmes told IRIN at the end of his three-day visit to Yemen.

Some 150,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) have been forced to flee their homes as a result of sporadic clashes since 2004 between the Yemeni government and a Shia rebel group in and around the northern governorate of Saada.

“We launched a flash appeal a few weeks ago. The funding for that is creeping up… but it’s still not enough. So we need to keep on drawing these issues to the attention of the international community and the donors in particular, and say that there are problems here that need to be funded,” he said.

As of 11 October, only 16 percent of the funds for the flash appeal had been received - most of which is going towards the establishment and management of IDP camps. But there are many other needs which have yet to be funded, according to aid officials.

At a press conference on 11 October, Holmes said that if the flash appeal requests are not met aid agencies would have to cut back on the provision of essential needs. However, he said he was “optimistic that [the UN] will not get into that position”.

The US, Saudi and Swiss governments are the biggest donors to the flash appeal, according to the UN. On 9 October the UK said it would pledge US$3.2 million to the appeal.

“The UK’s support will target those people in most urgent need, providing critical relief such as water, sanitation and food, as well as boosting UN capacity to respond to the broader humanitarian crisis,” said UK's International Development Secretary Douglas Alexander in a statement.

Holmes said it was not all that unusual for funds to be slow in coming through in the initial period: “Sometimes people need to do some assessments of their own to see if they really think the situation warrants the aid we’re asking for,” he said.

Disclaimer:This material comes to you via IRIN, the humanitarian news and analysis service of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. The opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the United Nations or its Member States.
Photo: Copyright IRIN

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