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Published:November 13th, 2009 11:47 EST
UN: Yemenis Fleeing Embattled North

UN: Yemenis Fleeing Embattled North

By SOP newswire3

13 November 2009 " The United Nations refugee agency reported today that an increasing number of civilians are fleeing embattled Sa`ada province in northern Yemen as the fighting between Government troops and Al Houthi rebels rages on.

Those fleeing the violence, the latest round of which began in August, are seeking shelter in camps and with host families in the neighbouring southern provinces of Hajjah and Amran, according to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

This new displacement puts increasing pressure on UNHCR`s attempts to alleviate the suffering of the people in need, " spokesperson Andrej Mahecic told reporters in Geneva.

UNHCR estimates that 175,000 people have been affected by the conflict in Yemen since 2004, including those displaced by the latest crisis.

Around 150 new families have been arriving daily at Al Mazrak camp in Hajjah province in recent days, compared with the 20 to 30 that were arriving daily in previous weeks. UNHCR warned that the camp has now exceeded its capacity with nearly 10,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) living there.

The latest sudden influx is adding more pressure on an already dire situation, and overcrowding in the camp is becoming a major concern, " said Mr. Mahecic. Three or four families now share a tent normally meant for one. "

He added that while improving the living conditions in the camp remains a priority, UNHCR is also ready to assist local authorities and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in speeding up the construction of Al Mazrak II camp, which will be able to house up to 1,000 families and is expected to start receiving IDPs in the coming days.