22 April 2008The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is seeking nearly $3 million to assist some 77,000 people affected by a local conflict which erupted between a rebel group and government forces in northern Yemen in 2004. According to the agency, about half of the internally displaced persons (IDPs) returned to their homes in the Sa’adah Governorate after a ceasefire was signed in August 2007. However, renewed fighting has led to new displacements, and despite a peace agreement signed in January 2008, the situation remains volatile. “New IDPs continue to arrive in Sa’adah city, including more than 200 families for the past week alone,” UNHCR spokesperson Ron Redmond told a news conference in Geneva. UNHCR plans to use the funds to improve the living conditions of the IDPs and returnees, including through the distribution of non-food items, such as blankets, stoves and mattresses. It also intends to provide tents and reconstruction material and assistance for the construction of mud shelter for 400 vulnerable returnees. “This assistance will also help relieve the burden on local communities, which host 90 per cent of the IDP population,” Mr. Redmond noted. The agency also plans to provide IDPs and returnees with training so they can become self-sufficient, raise awareness on IDP rights, provide social counselling services and carry out projects to prevent sexual-based violence.