Last Updated: Tuesday, 16 September 2014, 13:37 GMT

Yemen: Food aid delays hit IDPs in Amran Governorate

Publisher Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN)
Publication Date 17 August 2010
Cite as Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN), Yemen: Food aid delays hit IDPs in Amran Governorate, 17 August 2010, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4c6e2af41e.html [accessed 16 September 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

AMRAN, 17 August 2010 (IRIN) - Thousands of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the northern Yemeni governorate of Amran, including 1,800 in the governorate's only IDP camp, Khaiwan, have been hit by food aid delivery delays, according to aid workers.

"Today, we are fasting without having 'sahour' [a pre-dawn Ramadan meal]. We also don't have food to break our fast at sunset," Um Mohammed, 50, a widow living with her seven children in the camp, told IRIN.

They fled their home in Amran's Harf Sufyan District in early September 2009 after clashes between the army and Houthi-led Shia rebels.

According to a July report by the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), 49,759 of the 328,877 registered IDPs in the north are in Amran Governorate.

Thousands of IDPs outside the camp are living in tents, renting flats or living with host families. All are dependent on food aid, said Khaiwan camp supervisor Nabil Khamis.

He told IRIN the last food aid delivery was at the end of June, and they were still waiting for July rations. "Many of the camp residents and hundreds of others living in nearby tents were forced to go out and beg for food from nearby villages," he said.

Others have been doing odd jobs for local farmers to get food. "The situation is worse among widows and the disabled in the camp who cannot work".

ICRC role

In the past WFP, through its partner Islamic Relief (IR), was in charge of food distribution in the camp, but the agency transferred the job to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) from July until the end of 2010 "due to WFP funding constraints", Maria Santamarina, WFP's reporting and advocacy officer in Sanaa, told IRIN.

The ICRC was aiming to distribute one month's worth of food rations - wheat, rice, beans, oil, sugar and salt - to IDPs in Amran Governorate, said Rabab Al-Rifai, the ICRC spokesperson in Yemen. "The organization is discussing the final details with the concerned entities in the governorate."

A ceasefire between government forces and al-Houthi rebels was signed in February 2010 but intermittent clashes in Harf Sufyan District have hampered aid agency access and food aid delivery in Amran in the past few months, IR country director Khalid Almulad said.

Lack of safe access to needy IDPs was a major problem not only in Amran, according Tarek Elguindi, head of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in Yemen.
 
"There are tribal conflicts in al-Jawf [Governorate], a government-tribal conflict in Amran and a government-Houthi conflict in Saada? Roads to several areas where IDPs are sheltering still remain unsafe," he said, adding that in Amran armed tribesmen were setting up checkpoints in a bid to exert pressure on the government to give them jobs. "They are preventing aid workers from reaching IDPs."

There are 17,235 IDPs in al-Jawf and 110,000 in Saada, according to UNHCR.
 
Elguindi said the government had offered to provide military escorts to aid workers to help get the food aid delivered, but the offer had been turned down. "As humanitarian agencies, we have to be neutral and impartial," he said.

Like other IDPs in Khaiwan camp, Um Mohammed was expecting more food aid during Ramadan, not less: "Did they [aid agencies] choose to treat us this way in Ramadan?" she said. "We were expecting to get better rations, including dates and sweats during this holy month, but it didn't happen."

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