Newborn and elderly woman die as winter hits Marib camp for displaced

Almost 100,000 people fleeing fighting have arrived in the area in the past three months

Girls at Al Sumya camp for internally displaced persons, east of Marib city in Yemen. AFP
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A newborn child and an elderly woman have died as bitterly cold weather hit a makeshift camp for internally displaced people in Yemen’s Marib province.

Almost 100,000 people have fled fighting to arrive in the city of Marib and Yemen's Al Wadi district in the past three months, Dr Khalid Musaed, manager of the Executive Unit for IDPs in Marib, told The National.

The newborn child, aged 35 days, and the woman died last week, Dr Musaed said.

“The new IDPs who recently fled from districts of Jabal Murad, Al Joubah and Hareeb need an urgent winter response," he said. "They need blankets, mattresses and shelter to alleviate their suffering in such harsh weather.”

The city of Marib and Al Wadi district has received 96,328 people fleeing fighting in the past three months, Dr Musaed said.

“Families are still fleeing as the living conditions in districts in the southern territory of Marib worsened recently,” he said.

People in Al Siwaida camp shared heartbreaking stories of living in makeshift tents in the cold temperatures.

“I feel devastated watching my six children cramped in a small tent sharing three blankets in such harsh winter," a displaced person told The National.

“It is very cold. Dozens of my livestock, which are the main source of our income died, because of the extreme cold.”

Yehya Hayba and his children, who fled fighting between Huthi rebels and the Saudi-backed government forces, at the Al Sumya camp.

The UN refugee agency said that the humanitarian situation in Marib province has been further exacerbated by the influx of displaced people from the southern districts.

There has been a drastic increase in the need for "shelter, essential household items, water and sanitation, education and protection services, particularly for children and women”, UNHCR communication officer Duniya Aslam Khan told The National.

“Health conditions such as acute watery diarrhoea, malaria and upper respiratory tract infections are common among the newly displaced. There is an urgent need for screenings to provide health care and prevent the spread of communicable diseases.

“Families from the Sirwah district are among the most vulnerable. In recent weeks, many have fled intensified armed clashes, which led to the closure of five UNHCR-managed accommodation sites.

An aerial view of the camp.

“Some of these families have already been displaced five times since the start of the conflict in 2015. In October, a UN inter-agency mission reported that due to lack of adequate shelter support, in some locations, five families or more are sharing one tent and common toilets.”

Fierce battles have raged between Houthi rebels and the pro-government forces and tribes in eastern Marib city since last Thursday.

The Houthi rebels intensified efforts to penetrate the defensive lines of pro-government forces in Al Balaq hills to the east of the city, a pro-government commander told The National.

Updated: December 12, 2021, 8:52 AM