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Yemen: ICRC activities from April to June 2009

30-07-2009 Operational Update

In the western districts of Sa'ada governorate and in Al-Harf district of Amran governorate, an already vulnerable population suffered the effects of persisting tension and intermittent armed clashes. The ICRC distributed food and other essentials to displaced people and residents in whenever conditions permitted.

In the western districts of Sa'ada governorate (Razeh, Ghamir and Saqayn) and in Al-Harf district of Amran governorate, an already vulnerable population suffered the effects of persisting tension and intermittent armed clashes between Yemeni armed and security forces, Houthi fighters and tribes.

In May and June, more civilians left their homes to take refuge in Sa'ada city. By end of June, more than 1,000 families had fled their insecure villages to take refuge either in one of the four camps for internally displaced people (IDPs) managed jointly by the ICRC and the Yemen Red Crescent Society or with relatives in the city. In the camps alone, the number of displaced people rose from 6,500 to more than 7,600, thus putting further strain on the infrastructure of Sa'ada, a governorate that has yet to recover from five rounds of conflict between 2004 and mid-2008.

The ICRC had only limited and irregular access to certain areas – a situation which was aggravated in June when nine foreigners working in Sa'ada's Al-Jumhoury Hospital were kidnapped near the town. Sadly, three of those kidnapped were found dead while the fate of the six others remained unknown.

Further tensions were reported in the south of the country, where a wave of demonstrations resulted in a number of people being killed or injured, and exacerbated the country's already unsettled and unpredictable state.

The ICRC distributed food and other essentials to displaced people and residents in Sa'ada governorate whenever conditions permitted.

    

" We are currently facing a very volatile and unpredictable situation that is having an impact not only on the people directly affected by the conflict, but also on the capacity of the ICRC and the Yemen Red Crescent to respond to their needs, " said Klaus Spreyermann, the ICRC's head of sub-delegation in Sa'ada.

Because the ICRC is the only international organization that has maintained a continuous presence in Sa'ada, it stepped in swiftly in April to meet the needs of flood victims in the north-western desert areas of Sa'ada governorate.

 Providing clean water and proper sanitation for displaced people and residents  

   
  ©ICRC/A. Casal    
 
  Al-Harf, Amran governorate. A young boy decides to cool off as ICRC water engineers test the flow of a water pump.   
    In the remote district of Al-Buqua', north-east of Sa'ada governorate, hundreds of people were affected by flooding caused by heavy rainfall in early April. Many families lost their shelter, some or all of their livestock and other items necessary for their survival.

Once the heavy rains had ended, the ICRC and the Yemen Red Crescent distributed tents, ground sheets, mattresses, blankets, washing soap, jerrycans, hand soap, buckets, kitchen sets, and food rations for one month (wheat flour, vegetable oil, beans, rice, sugar and salt) to over 3,400 people. They also delivered 44,000 litres of drinking water by truck over one month to cover the most urgent needs. In addition, the ICRC provided medical supplies, for one month as well, to help the local health centre deal with any outbreak of disease.

Between April and May:

  • up to 128,000 litres of drinking water were delivered by truck every day to four camps for the displaced in Sa'ada town. In order to cope with sanitation needs, the ICRC also built three additional septic tanks and improved the drainage of the fetching points. These measures resulted in sufficient drinking water and appropriate sanitation conditions for more than 7,500 people;

  • the installation of a pumping system, a 200-cubic-metre tank and a 16-kilometre-long water network benefitted 20,000 people in Dahyan town (Majz district of Sa’ada governorate);

  • three water projects (pumping system, elevated tank and network) were completed and six additional projects neared completion that together would cover the needs of some 23,500 people in Al-Areda, Al-Sari and Al-Humeidan, Al-Mazroh, Hajarat Fallah, Sudan, Al-Hamati, Al-Khodad and Al-Harf in Amran governorate;

  • the ICRC provided the National Water Resources Authority with laboratory materials and reagents for water analysis.

    

 Supporting health-care facilities  

The ICRC is supporting 11 health-care facilities in Yemen's volatile northern areas in cooperation with the Yemen Red Crescent. Four are located in camps for displaced people in Sa'ada, another five are scattered across the governorate, and two more are located in the Marran Mountains (Haydan district) and in Al-Harf in the governorate of Amran.

  • From April to June, the ICRC delivered basic medical supplies to these health-care facilities to cover the needs of around 168,000 residents and displaced people. The health-care centres carried out 340,000 consultations, including some 11,000 for children under five years of age.

  • In cooperation with the Ministry of Health and Populations, the Yemen Red Crescent immunized more than 1,500 people against polio, and ante-natal consultations were given for over 300 women.

  • In May, more than 3,000 mosquito nets were distributed in Haydan district to prevent the spread of malaria.

  • In June, surgical materials were donated to Al-Salam and Al-Jumhoury Hospitals in Sa'ada in support of their efforts to treat displaced people and people wounded in fighting.

  • To raise awareness of certain diseases, the ICRC continued to hold health-education sessions for women and children living in camps for the displaced.

 Physical rehabilitation programme  

   
  ©ICRC/A. Manassra    
 
Physical rehabilitation centre in Sana'a.    
    The ICRC maintained its support for physical rehabilitation centres in Sana'a, Mukalla and Aden, and for a clinic in Sa'ada. The clinic's services have occasionally been interrupted in recent months owing to the unstable security situation.

The production of polypropylene elbow crutches was launched in May in the Sana'a physical rehabilitation centre, where the necess ary equipment was installed and the materials were stockpiled. An ICRC specialist trained two Yemeni technicians.

In June, two students from Aden and one from Mukalla returned to Yemen after they successfully completed their first year of physical rehabilitation training in India with ICRC support.

In total, the physical rehabilitation centres in Yemen served more than 2,000 patients, including women and children:

  • more than 40 patients in Sa'ada governorate;

  • more than 1,700 patients at the other three ICRC-supported centres;

  • more than 200 new patients fitted with prostheses and some 650 with orthoses;

  • more than 500 prostheses and some 1,200 orthoses were delivered to mine victims;

  • almost 150 crutches and one wheelchair were delivered.

 Refugees and detainees  

Yemen has been considered a safe haven for many since the 1990s, especially for people from the Horn of Africa. A steady flow of refugees and other migrants continues to arrive in the country, mainly along its southern seashores. People who arrive safely are rewarded with hope, while hundreds of others end their journeys at sea or with their bodies washing ashore. The ICRC does what it can to help those who make it alive.

ICRC delegates also help families in Yemen maintain contact with their loved ones detained abroad in Guantanamo Bay, Afghanistan, Iraq and Lebanon. In Yemen, the ICRC provides vocational training for detained women.

  • From April to June, more than 1,000 Re d Cross messages (containing brief family news) were exchanged between refugees from the Horn of Africa and their families in Yemen.

  • The ICRC succeeded in determining the whereabouts of another seven missing persons and restored contact between them and their families.

  • Over 300 people awaiting deportation continued to receive food, hygiene and basic health-care items.

  • More than 500 Red Cross messages were exchanged between people held in Guantanamo Bay and their families in Yemen.

  • Around 250 Red Cross messages were exchanged between families in Yemen and their detained relatives in Iraq, Afghanistan and Lebanon.

  • The ICRC continued to organize telephone calls between Yemeni nationals held in Guantanamo Bay and Afghanistan and their families in Yemen. A total of 47 families spoke by telephone with their detained relatives through the ICRC delegation in Sana'a.

  • The ICRC continued to work together with the Yemen Red Crescent to develop the reading, writing, sewing and embroidery skills of between 200 and 300 women held in 10 prisons in the country and 30 children in two kindergartens.

 Promoting international humanitarian law  

The ICRC continued to cooperate with various entities in several parts of the country to spread knowledge about itself and international humanitarian law.

From April to June, the ICRC:

  • organized, in cooperation with the Yemen Red Crescent, a seminar in Sa'ada on international humanitarian law and the ICRC for 25 local journalists. Similar presentations were given to 60 people who had completed a training programme in first aid organized by the Yemen Red Crescent's Sa'ada branch;

  • gave a presentation on international humanitarian law and the ICRC in April for the staff of the governor's office, the ministry of education, Sa'ada College and traffic police;

  • organized lectures on international humanitarian law in June for some 100 members of the Yemeni peace-keeping forces, 1,500 officers from the Military College, 140 officers at the Command and Staff College, and some 80 officers from the Police Academy;

  • visited schools to raise awareness of international humanitarian law among young people, and Aden University to meet with law professors and students;

  • launched a " Humanity in War " photo exhibition in Sana'a in May and in Taiz in June in connection with the Our World. Your Move . campaign marking the 150th anniversary of the idea of the Red Cross.

The ICRC has been working in Yemen since 1962. Its workforce has been increasing steadily since the beginning of the year; it currently has 110 staff based in the country – 65 in the capital Sana'a, including 17 expatriates, and 45 in Sa'ada, including six expatriates.