Tens of thousands of refugees flee fighting in Mokha

Tens of thousands of refugees flee fighting in Mokha
A number of aid organisations are raising alarms over a possible humanitarian disaster in Yemen, as the Saudi-led coalition restricts aid parcels to civilians.
2 min read
01 March, 2017
Many Yemeni children are forced to beg for food because of the war [AFP]
Fighting between Yemeni government troops and Houthi rebels in the port-town of Mokha has forced 45,000 people to flee their homes, a UN official said on Wednesday.

Data compiled by the refugee agency UNHCR and the UN Migration Agency (IOM) showed that tens of thousands of refugees had been added to the more than three million already displaced in the country.

"Eight thousand people have been displaced from Mokha and Dhubab to Hodeida alone, many of them with literally nothing but the clothes on their backs," said Shabia Mantoo, spokesperson for the UNHCR.

Save the Children also warned on Wednesday that the Saudi-led coalition was blocking humanitarian aid to the country, exacerbating the country's increasing humanitarian crisis.

"These delays are killing children," said Grant Pritchard, Interim Country Director for Save the Children in Yemen.

The [Saudi-led coalition is] turning aid and commercial supplies into weapons of war.

"Our teams are dealing with outbreaks of cholera, and children suffering from diarrhoea, measles, malaria and malnutrition. With the right medicines these are all completely treatable – but the Saudi-led coalition is stopping them getting in.

"They are turning aid and commercial supplies into weapons of war."

The large majority of Yemen's internally displaced refugees suffer from malnutrition and disease, with a UN aid chief warning of an impending famine disaster on Tuesday.

The UN had previously warned that $2.1 billion dollars was needed to avert famine in Yemen.

Around 12 million of the nearly 19 million Yemeni population is expected to need assistance across Yemen this year.

Many refugees sleep under very simple canvas sheets without mattresses or bedding, reports IRIN News.

The Houthi rebels launched a counter-attack against government troops in the strategically important port town of Mokha after a major offensive forced them out last month.

March 21 will mark the second anniversary since the Houthi rebels attempted to overthrow the Yemeni government in Sanaa, sparking the involvement of the Saudi-led Arab coalition.

There have been seven failed ceasefire efforts since fighting broke out, killing more than 7,500 people and wounding tens of thousands more.