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Yemen: tens of thousands in Abyan in need of urgent help

06-06-2012 News Release

Sana'a/Geneva (ICRC) – In recent days, fierce fighting, sometimes involving air strikes, has led to a severe deterioration of the humanitarian situation in Abyan governorate, southern Yemen, and hampered the ability of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to deliver urgently needed assistance.

"We are extremely concerned about the people trapped inside, and about the dire situation in Ja'ar, Shukra and in nearby areas where fighting is going on," said Eric Marclay, the head of the ICRC delegation in Yemen. "Our staff were there a few days ago to assess the situation and found serious, urgent needs that, if not met, could lead to the displacement of over 100,000 people. Thousands of people have already fled to safer places."

Food reserves are running short, prices are soaring and health-care services are inadequate. The area has been without electricity for over a week. As a result, the water supply network, which relies on electrical pumps, has also been disrupted. Fuel is available only sporadically, and only on the black market at inflated prices.

"If we were immediately allowed to bring relief supplies in to Abyan, we could prevent population movements towards Aden," declared Mr Marclay

Yesterday, all roads leading to the governorate were blocked, and movement in and out was restricted. "We are calling on all parties involved in the fighting to grant the ICRC immediate access and security guarantees, so that it can deliver much-needed assistance and prevent an acute humanitarian crisis," said Mr Marclay.

In its capacity as a strictly neutral, impartial and independent humanitarian organization, the ICRC has repeatedly reminded those involved in the fighting of their obligation under international humanitarian law to take all feasible precautions to avoid civilian casualties. All parties must distinguish at all times between civilians and combatants. In addition, they must respect and protect medical and humanitarian personnel, and ensure to the fullest extent practicable and with the least delay that the wounded have safe access to medical care.

For further information, please contact:
Dibeh Fakhr, ICRC Sana'a, tel: +967 711 94 43 43 or +967 73 607 19 67
Hicham Hassan, ICRC Geneva, tel: +41 22 730 25 41 or +41 79 536 92 57