Pools of Yemeni IDPs ignored -- aid groups

Nov. 12, 2009 at 1:53 PM
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SANAA, Yemen, Nov. 12 (UPI) -- Focusing on the internally displaced community seeking shelter in refugee camps in Yemen overlooks the broader picture, international aid groups said.

U.N. and international aid agencies said cultural and lifestyle considerations keep much of the internally displaced community in Yemen away from organized camps.

Officials with the U.N. Refugee Agency said conditions at many of the camps do not make considerations for the conservative position on women.

"They are conservative people and their cultural values don't allow for their women to be seen by strangers," Mai Barazi, a UNHCR official in Yemen, told the U.N. humanitarian news agency, IRIN.

Meanwhile, a report from the International Committee of the Red Cross on Thursday says many in the displaced community seek shelter with host families.

"The focus on camps means that what happens to the majority of displaced people, those who seek refuge with host communities, is often ignored," said ICRC President Jakob Kellenberger.

The UNHCR estimates as many as 175,000 people were displaced in Yemen since 2004 when conflict began against government forces and al-Houthi rebels.

The government launched a major offensive against al-Houthis in early August, prompting relief groups to warn of a humanitarian emergency.

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