UN increases estimate of those affected by Yemen fighting to 200,000

Heavy fighting and air strikes continue to take a toll in northern Yemen, with the UN increasing its estimates to suggest that 200,000 civilians have been affected.

NEW YORK // Heavy fighting and air strikes continue to take a toll in northern Yemen, with the UN increasing its estimates to suggest that 200,000 civilians have been affected by a combat between government and rebel forces since hostilities began in 2004. One camp at Al Mazrak has more than doubled its intended capacity, hosting some 21,000 Yemenis, while a spillover facility erected by the UAE Red Crescent in November is "quickly filling up", warned Andrej Mahecic, a spokesman for the UN refugee's agency.

"There is no lull in the fierce fighting between the government troops and al Houthi forces in Sa'ada province in northern Yemen as the conflict enters the sixth month," he said. "We now estimate that some 200,000 people have been affected by the conflict in Yemen since 2004, including those displaced by the latest escalation which erupted in early August last year." The rebel uprising, an alliance of tribesmen disgruntled by state neglect against the minority Zaidi Shia sect, is one of many problems facing Yemen's government, where poverty, dwindling oil reserves and al Qa'eda militants jeopardise state stability.

Abdullah al Saidi, Yemen's ambassador to the UN, last week called on the six-nation Gulf Co-operation Council to allow Yemen membership of the oil-rich group to help stave off the security crisis. Last week, the UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, spoke of his "great concern" that "stability and security are deteriorating in Yemen" and announced plans to attend a high-level meeting on Arabia's poorest nation taking place in London on January 27.

jreinl@thenational.ae