x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Relief work

According to the UN High Commission on Refugees (UNHCR), 250,000 Yemenis are internally displaced. This is in addition to 167,000 Somali refugees who also fall under the protection of the UN refugee agency. Yemen is still the only country in the Gulf region to have signed the 1951 Refugee Convention. While the 250,000 displaced people can be found throughout the country, the most recent ones fled their homes in the north after they were caught up in the war between the government and the Houthi rebels. To deal with the increasing numbers, the UNHCR is "on the brink" of opening a fourth refugee camp for those fleeing the conflict. An earlier camp was built and is being run by the UAE Red Crescent Authority (RCA). Known as Mazraq II, the RCA camp was set up to absorb up to 7,000 people but is now almost at capacity, according to Yacoub el Hillo, the UNHCR's regional representative. He said he was hoping for additional help from nearby countries.

Twelve hours after the call went out for help for the victims of Haiti's devastating earthquake, the UNHCR's team in Dubai had arranged a package of relief items, including tents and mattresses. The items, which were dispatched on two planes, were distributed to nearly 100,000 Haitians. The agency is now preparing to mobilise more aid to be sent from Dubai, which is the site of UNHCR's largest stockpile of relief items. Mr el Hillo said UNHCR teams were working to deliver humanitarian aid as part of the wider UN response. They are also working to help reunite separated families.

* Zoi Constantine