«In ‘breakthrough,’ UN refugee agency reaches embattled Yemeni governorate with life-saving aid»

pubil«23 March 2016 – Calling it a “breakthrough,” the United Nations refugee agency today reported that earlier this week, 13 trucks managed to deliver blankets,mattresses, and other badlyneeded emergency relief items to Taiz governorate in Yemen.

It was the first time a convoy from the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) made it through all the way from Aden to Taizz, which is located in the highlands of country’s southwest.

Dispatched in coordination with the Government of Yemen’s High Relief Committee, it arrived on Sunday in Mashra’a Wa Hadnan, a district immediately south of the embattled Taiz city centre. Distribution is reportedly starting this week for 500 displaced people, others who have returned to Taiz, plus local families who have been affected by the conflict.

Meanwhile, another 13 trucks are on their way to nearby Sabir Al Mawadim district and will be distributed among another 500 families. In Mashra’a Wa Hadnan, the situation is now calm according to the UN, and some displaced families have been returning to their homes, while fighting persists on the eastern part of Sabir Al Mawadim.

“The two districts host over 7,500 displaced people. It is the first time that assistance has been delivered there using the direct route from Aden,” said UNHCR Representative in Yemen, Johannes van der Klaauw, in a press release.

“The wider governorate of Taiz hosts 555,048 internally displaced people, the biggest concentration in the country and equal to almost a quarter of the 2.4 million total Yemen-wide,” he added.

For months, UNHCR has been advocating for regular and sustained humanitarian access to Taiz city and governorate. Now, with key roads into Taiz reopened since 11 March after nine months of blocked access, UNHCR is taking advantage of the opportunity to get help to people who desperately need it. This includes aid, vital protection and shelter help.

While continued intense fighting is being reported in parts of Yemen, a lull in the conflict in other areas is opening space for UNHCR and other humanitarian organizations, including local humanitarian actors, to reach more people. To the north of Taiz, in Ibb governorate, which hosts over 100,000 displaced people, UNHCR is currently mapping how to address the needs.

Further north, reduced violence along the Yemen-Saudi border over the last two weeks has allowed the agency to distribute emergency aid in Sa’ada. In coordination with relevant authorities, UNHCR is hoping further assessments of needs and distributions will be possible over the next days.

Later this week, UNHCR and a partner will distribute emergency relief carried in a third convoy from Aden to the Ash Shamayatayn district of Taiz, an area that hosts 159,444 displaced people, according to their protection monitoring. Since October, UNHCR has been providing rental subsidies, cash assistance, legal assistance, and counselling as well as psychosocial care through a partner organization.

“Ultimately, a halt to the hostilities remains the only way to end the suffering and ensure access to humanitarian aid across the country”, said Mr. van der Klaauw. “UNHCR is hopeful that a lasting, country-wide ceasefire can be brokered among the parties as this will open up further space to provide essential humanitarian assistance on the ground.»

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