Yemen says sets safe corridors for displaced civilians

Yemeni authorities said safe corridors had been set up to allow refugees access to camps offering a safe haven from fighting.

Yemen says sets safe corridors for displaced civilians

Yemeni authorities said on Tuesday safe corridors had been set up to allow refugees access to camps offering a safe haven from fighting, which U.N. aid agencies said was making the humanitarian situation ever worse.

U.N. agencies said street battles continued with Shi'ite rebels in the northern city of Saada and insecurity prevented relief supplies from reaching hungry people fleeing the conflict.

Up to 150,000 people have fled their homes since Shi'ite tribesmen launched an insurgency in 2004. The conflict has intensified since the army unleashed "Operation Scorched Earth" on Aug. 11.

A statement on the state news agency Saba said the Supreme Security Committee had called on displaced persons to head for four camps in Saada and Amran provinces using "safe corridors".

The U.N. refugee agency UNHCR in Geneva said it had asked the Yemeni government not to move any more people to one of them, Khaiwan, because of shooting incidents nearby.

"We don't want to see any new internally displaced persons (IDPs) being brought in and potentially harmed," spokesman Andrej Mahecic told a news briefing.

"The camp itself is not insecure, but we feel it would be risky to bring people there at this point," he said.

"At the same time, UNHCR appeals to the government to allow the UN to start the distribution of aid to IDPs outside the camp," he said.

This week the UNHCR managed for the first time to bring in an aid convoy from Saudi Arabia, which borders the conflict zone and fears the war could spread northwards or allow al Qaeda a new foothold in Yemen. Riyadh has stopped refugees crossing the border to seek shelter.

The UNHCR hopes to send a second convoy "very soon" to the Alb camp -- of the four mentioned by the government -- where more than 3,000 people are gathered, Mahecic said.

Aid agencies have not been allowed access to most of those uprooted by the conflict. Media have also been kept away, making it hard to verify conflicting claims from each side.

"The humanitarian situation is getting worse by the day," Aboudou Karimou Adjibade, UNICEF representative in Yemen, said in a statement.

The rebels, Zaidi Shi'ite Muslims, complain of political, economic and religious discrimination. The governments says they want to set up a religious state that fell in 1962.

Reuters
Last Mod: 14 Ekim 2009, 07:33
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