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Yemen: access to Abyan paves the way for aid distributions

18-08-2011 News Release 11/165

Geneva/Sana'a (ICRC) – For the first time in several months, many people have been fleeing from the governorate of Abyan to nearby governorates or seeking safer areas within Abyan itself. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the Yemen Red Crescent Society have had access to the governorate for the past two weeks and have distributed food rations to over 17,000 displaced people and residents there.

"The southern parts of the country continue to be the scene of increasing instability," said Eric Marclay, the head of the ICRC delegation in Yemen. "Now that we finally have access, our first priority is to make sure that people who need food receive it as soon as possible."

Over the past few days, ICRC and Yemen Red Crescent personnel have been working together with people from the local communities to distribute food rations to displaced people and residents in the areas of Zinjibar, Ja'ar, al-Bateis and al-Husn in Abyan governorate. Since fighting erupted in May, food and household essentials have also been distributed to over 17,500 displaced people in the governorate of Lahj.

"Because civilians affected by the armed confrontations must have access to health care, we have repeatedly reminded those involved in the fighting that health-care facilities and people not participating in the fighting must be spared at all times," said Mr Marclay.

Within the past fortnight, the ICRC has supplied 10 first-aid kits to the Yemen Red Crescent branch in Abyan, where more than 70 people have been treated and transferred to health-care facilities. In addition, an ICRC surgical team has performed 23 operations on weapon-wounded patients and donated 22 medical kits and various other medical items, including intravenous fluids and anaesthetic drugs, to medical personnel in al-Naqeeb, al-Jumhouriya and Ibn Khaldun hospitals to help them treat dozens of casualties. Yemen Red Crescent volunteers have transferred seven dead bodies to al-Razi hospital so that they can be handed over to their families for proper burial.

The situation in Abyan has changed drastically over the past few months. Armed confrontations have forced tens of thousands of people to hastily leave their homes in search of safer places. The ICRC will continue to closely monitor the situation in the south of the country. It stands ready to take further action in cooperation with the Yemen Red Crescent.

For further information, please contact:
Rabab Al-Rifaï, ICRC Sana'a, tel: +967 1 213 844 or +967 711 94 43 43
Christian Cardon, ICRC Geneva, tel: +41 22 730 24 26 or +41 79 251 93 02