AL-MUKALLA: More than 19,000 families have fled their homes in northern Yemen since January due to fighting between government forces and the Houthis, according to official figures.
The Iran-backed militia has increased its attacks on government-controlled areas in the provinces of Marib, Jouf and Sanaa since early this year, leading people to desert their homes and settle in camps and makeshift houses in and around the densely populated city of Marib.
In November alone around 200 displaced families were forced to escape from their camps in Raghwan district, outside Marib city, as the Houthis increased their missile attacks and shelling to weaken government forces, the internationally recognized government’s Executive Unit for IDPs Camps said in a report released on Nov. 20.
“Some of the displaced people were forced into running away from homes and displacement camps three or four times,” Najeeb Al-Saadi, the unit’s head, told Arab News on Thursday.
The latest fighting outside Marib has pushed the number of displaced people in the city to 1.2 million since early 2015, representing almost 45 percent of the displaced people in Yemen.
Al-Saadi said 8,000 people, who had previously lived in Majazer district in northern Marib and Al-Khaneq camp in Sanaa’s Nehim after fleeing Houthi-controlled territories in 2015, were forced to seek refuge after the Houthis made major territorial gains in Marib and Sanaa.
Those families were forced again into heading to Marib’s downtown area as fighting and shelling rocked camps.
“Humanitarian interventions are inadequate compared to the big number of displaced people,” Al-Saadi added, urging the UN to pressure the warring factions to stop fighting in Marib.
If the Houthis invaded Marib, he warned, more than a million people would be displaced from the city, causing a major humanitarian crisis. “We should all work on preventing the war from getting closer to displacement camps which could trigger a huge displacement and no one would be able to help them.”
Marib has enjoyed peace and stability since the beginning of the war, attracting tens of thousands of people who have fled Houthi repression. The Houthis have increased their attacks on the city through drones, ballistic missiles and mortar rounds.
Local army commanders believe that hundreds of Houthis, including field commanders, have been killed in fighting with army troops and allied tribesmen during the last couple of months.
During his visit to Marib in March, the UN Yemen envoy Martin Griffiths called for attacks on Marib to stop and to keep the city as an oasis for peace and stability. “Marib must be insulated from conflict, remain a haven for Yemenis and continue its path to development and prosperity,” Griffiths said.
On Thursday the governor of Marib, Sultan Al-Arada, told Vice President Ali Mohsen Al-Ahmer that the army and local tribesmen had scored victories on the battlefield and foiled Houthi “terrorist” attacks on the city, the official Saba news agency reported.
In Sanaa the Houthis held funeral processions for their fighters, including senior field commanders, who were killed in fighting with government forces or by Arab coalition warplanes.
Also in Sanaa, a Houthi-controlled court on Wednesday sentenced 91 people to death and ordered their properties to be confiscated, accusing them of supporting the coalition’s military operations.
The convicted include: Nadia Al-Sakkaf, the former information minister and editor of the Sanaa-based Yemen Times, Ahmed Lamlis, the governor of Aden, Rajeh Badi, a government spokesperson, Jamel Aiz Addin, Yemen state TV director, senior military and security officers, journalists, activists and ambassadors.