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The United States is concerned about the humanitarian situation in northern Yemen caused by the ongoing conflict between the government of Yemen and Al-Houthi opposition groups in the Sa’ada governorate. The conflict began in 2004 when the dissident shia cleric Hussein Badreddin al-Houthi launched an uprising against the Yemen government. Al-Houthi rebels claim they are discriminated against in the majority-Sunni country.
A ceasefire was declared by Yemen’s President Ali Abdullah Saleh in July of 2008. But hostilities flared up again in August 2009. According to international aid agencies, as many as 55,000 Yemenis are newly displaced as a result of the latest round of fighting. An estimated 150,000 Yemenis have been uprooted as a result of this 5-year-long conflict.
Violence and political disruption continue to hamper the distribution of humanitarian assistance in many areas. As winter approaches, it becomes even more critical that displaced people, and others affected by the conflict, receive timely assistance.
The United States calls on all parties to return to the ceasefire that was established in 2008; to respect international humanitarian law; and to avoid any action that would endanger the civilian population -- including relief workers -- in affected areas. All parties need to coordinate humanitarian pauses during the fighting to provide relief agencies the opportunity to deliver urgently-needed food and medical supplies to tens of thousands of displaced Yemenis, as well as civilians, to escape the conflict zones.
The United States has thus far provided over $8.7 million in fiscal year 2009 to assist Yemenis displaced by the recent fighting. The U.S. government provides food aid and supports emergency shelter, water, sanitation, hygiene, and protection needs for the most vulnerable among the estimated 150,000 displaced persons and 25,000 vulnerable host families in Sa’ada, Hajjah, and Amran governorates. But significant needs remain. The U.S. urges other donor nations to support international relief agencies in alleviating the suffering caused by this ongoing humanitarian crisis.