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Displaced within their own borders

Yemen (Hajjah) – When I reached Yemen’s Hajjah region on 28 August 2009 along with UNHCR colleagues, tens of thousands of Yemenis had already been displaced by the conflict in northern Yemen between the government and Al Houti forces. It was a six year-old conflict that escalated again into open hostilities on 12 August 2009.

The fighting was not far from Hajjah’s Al Mazarak school where we had set up registration and distribution centre for internally displaced persons. The thundering sounds of cannons, gunshots and tank shells coming from behind the nearest hills were a regular reminder that the war was not far away. Nevertheless, under a boiling sun, displaced Yemenis were lining up quietly to register at Hajjah’s Al Mazrak centre, an old school turned first into a food an non-food items distribution point and later on expanded into an IDP camp.

What struck me most was the composure and dignity of the displaced Yemenis in accepting any available assistance, in spite of growing needs for food, water, shelter and medical care.

When a ceasefire was agreed upon on 11 February 2011 between the government of Yemen and Al Houthi forces, some 350,000 people had been internally displaced across the regions of Sa’ada, Amran, Hajjah, Al Jawf and Sana’a.

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