Refugees

Over 90,000 displaced in Yemen's Marib: UN

By AFP

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Yemenis watch flooded waters in Marib province on August 4th. [AFP]

More than 90,000 people have been displaced in Marib province since January due to intense fighting between the Yemeni government forces and the Iran-backed Houthis (Ansarallah), the UN said Tuesday (October 6th).

The Houthis have held Sanaa, 120 kilometres away, since 2014, and are mounting a fierce campaign to take Marib -- the government's last northern stronghold.

The escalation in fighting has pushed more and more families from their homes, and is now threatening 140 camps currently operating in the province.

After years of conflict, some sources put the number of displaced in Marib at one million.

"Deadly fighting now is entering its tenth month in north-east Yemen, where more than 90,000 people have been displaced to and within Marib governorate since January," the International Organisation for Migration said in a statement.

"That is over half of all conflict-related displacement in Yemen this year," the UN agency said. "The situation is about to get worse."

Yemen chief of mission Christa Rottensteiner said the IOM was "hugely concerned" as the fighting drew nearer to areas heavily populated with civilians.

"We hope that a peaceful resolution can be found soon to prevent a massive displacement crisis," she said. "Hundreds of thousands of people could be forced to flee, many of whom would be running from this conflict for the second, third or even fourth time."

Until early 2020, Marib city was spared the worst of the conflict, due to its strategically important oil and gas reserves, and also because of its location near the border of regional power Saudi Arabia.

It became a sanctuary for many in the early years of the five-year war, taking in those hoping for a new start, but that relative stability is gone and residents are in the line of fire as the two sides battle for control.

Rottensteiner warned that if there is no resolution, "more areas would become unreachable for humanitarian organisations, meaning vulnerable communities would be left without even the most basic support".

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