Yemen: huge fire erupts at camp for internally displaced people

Investigation launched after one child is killed and four are injured at camp in Marib province

A man walks carrying a child at a camp for internally displaced people about 10 kilometres on the outskirts of Yemen's northeastern city of Marib on March 28, 2021, as residents of the camp prepare to flee due to its proximity with battles between forces of the Huthi-rebels and the Saudi-backed government troops.  / AFP / STR
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A child died while four people were injured when a huge fire broke out at a camp for internally displaced people in northern Yemen.

Three of the injured were women.

The blaze started on Saturday at Al Jufaina camp, in Marib province, said Dr Khalid Musaed, manager of Yemen's IDPs executive unit.

"The cause of the fire is still unclear", Dr Musaed told The National. Authorities were still investigating the incident, he said.

Twenty-five residences in the camp were burnt down and ten others partially damaged.

Families whose residences were damaged or destroyed were  moved to a public school near the camp.

Al Jufainah is the biggest IDP camp in northern Yemen's Marib province and hosts 10,300 families. Houthi rebels have repeatedly targeted IDP camps in the province with dozens of projectiles in recent weeks.

On Saturday evening, a ballistic missile fired by Houthi rebels rocked the residential neighbourhood of Al Rawdah in the city of Marib, witnesses told The National.

Four families were in the building when it was struck by the blast, a resident said. A child died.

On March 29, a man and six women were injured after Houthi mortars were fired at the Al Mail IDP camp.

The recent shelling follows comments made by Houthi officials criticising the administration of the camps, which host over a million people.

Last week, Houthi spokesperson Mohammed Abdul Salam wrote on Twitter that pro-government forces and ISIS militants were using IDP camps as hideouts and families residing there as human shields.

The tweet was widely understood to be a green light for rebel fighters to target them.

"The statement made by the Houthi spokesman was a direct order against the IDPs in Marib. The tweet reflects the Houthi intention to attack the IDPs camps", Dr Musaed said.

"We strongly condemn all crimes committed by the Houthi rebels against the IDPs in Marib and call on the UN and the international community to hold them accountable for such horrible crimes which amount to war crimes", he added.