Yemeni conflict concerns aid groups

Sept. 14, 2009 at 4:07 PM
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SANAA, Yemen, Sept. 14 (UPI) -- The conflict between Shiite rebel and government forces in Yemen has created the worst humanitarian crisis since fighting began five years ago, aid groups say.

Officials with the U.N. Refugee Agency said internally displaced persons trapped by the conflict are bearing the brunt of the conflict, the U.N. humanitarian news agency IRIN reports.

"Trapped IDPs in Saada city and the northern part of the province suffer the most as fierce armed confrontations impeded aid agencies' access to them," said Laure Chedrawi, a spokesperson for the UNHCR.

The Yemeni government launched a major offensive against al-Houthi rebels in north Yemen in early August. Aid groups and the United Nations said the fighting has displaced roughly 50,000 in the past month.

Government forces called for a limited halt to the fighting to allow humanitarian aid to reach those in need, though Nasim Ur-Rehman with UNICEF said the cease-fire had little effect.

"Due to the ongoing fighting and lack of security, many of the displaced have been beyond the reach of the aid community," he said.

The conflict in Yemen has spilled over to many parts of the region amid various claims of foreign support for the rebel group.

Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh alleged in a recent interview with Arabic news channel al-Jazeera that supporters of Iraqi cleric Moqtada Sadr were collaborating with Iran in its support for al-Houthi guerrillas.

Sadrists supporters, however, told the Voices of Iraq news agency that the Yemeni allegations "are wrong."

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