Yemen.. Testimonies of the tragedies of displacement in Marib as battles intensify in the governorate

With the intensification of violent battles between government forces backed by tribesmen and the Houthis in the southern districts of Marib Governorate (eastern Yemen); The humanitarian crisis is worsening in the governorate, which includes more than two million displaced people, according to the data of the Executive Unit for the Management of IDPs Camps in the city of the Yemeni government.

According to the media center of the government forces, violent battles are currently taking place along the southern and western fighting fronts, while the Saudi-led coalition announces daily air strikes, killing more than 2,450 Houthis, and destroying dozens of vehicles.

Imad Hamed (a resident) told Al Jazeera Net that the battles no longer cause panic, as they are taking place in areas more than 40 kilometers from the city of Ma’rib, but what worries them is the large number of displaced people to the city, where thousands were forced to flee under complicated circumstances, It is unfortunate to see thousands of displaced people without shelter and with the collapse of the economic situation.

bad situation

The Houthis achieved significant military gains after they launched their fiercest attacks on the southern districts of the governorate, and took control of the districts of Al-Juba, Al-Abdiya and Harib, before stopping in the Al-Jadida area, the center of the Al-Juba district, on their way to the north in light of the coalition strikes.

The director of the Human Rights Office in Marib, Abd Rabbo Judea, accused the Houthi group of practicing ethnic sectarian cleansing and genocide, and said that the Houthis besieged the Abdiya district for a month, during which they prevented the arrival of food and medicine, and directly targeted civilians in the Juba district.

Judaya told Al Jazeera Net that 350 civilians have been killed since the start of the war in the region during the past two months, including 43 civilians who were killed in two separate incidents, as the Houthis targeted the house of a tribal leader and a mosque in the Juba district with ballistic missiles and drones.

He added that Houthi snipers were targeting displaced people who tried to leave the camps in the Rawdat Dhanna area, which is close to the fighting lines.

But a member of the Houthi Political Bureau (the highest political authority in their areas of control) Ali al-Qahoum tells Al Jazeera Net that his group is making unremitting efforts to spare residential areas battles, through communication that the reconciliation committee is conducting with the local population.

“Our battle is not with the Yemenis, our battle is against the coalition that has turned Marib into a military base that includes mercenaries and the so-called al-Qaeda organization, and our goals are to attack military camps and bases,” he says.

continuous displacement

The fighting has exacerbated the humanitarian crisis in the governorate, which includes more than two million displaced people, according to the data of the Executive Unit for the Management of Displaced Persons’ Camps in the city of the Yemeni government.

The director of the unit, Khaled Al-Shajni, told Al-Jazeera Net that about 70,000 people have been displaced since the beginning of last September, pointing out that the displaced need the most basic necessities of life in light of the deterioration and slow humanitarian response provided by international organizations.

The displaced person, Abu Muhammad, lives in a primitive tent he set up near the Naqi’a camp, and he tells Al Jazeera Net by phone, “We had to leave our areas, and we kept walking long distances, and when we arrived, we were not given any aid except for simple aid from the people.”

“We left everything behind, and we are trying to save our lives from the bombing and siege. We don’t even have beds or blankets to sleep, especially at night, and they said that international organizations will help us, but we haven’t found anything until now.”

According to Abu Muhammad, the human suffering has become unbearable, explaining that the choice of death in war may be easier than the difficulties of displacement and the daily pain he lives with his children.

new camps

Jadee says that the local authority asked the organizations to intervene to save the displaced with basic needs, but they did not respond, at a time when more than 10,000 displaced people settled in the desert sands and farms, and the best of them settled with hosts from the local community.

The local authority is trying to absorb the large displacement, and it has approved the establishment of 5 camps with local funding, but this will not be enough, according to Judai. He stressed the need for the international community and human rights organizations to intervene, as international conventions stipulate, to protect civilians.

A joint statement by aid agencies operating in Yemen – including ACTED, CARE, Danish Council, Norwegian Refugee Council, Oxfam, Polish Humanitarian Action and Save the Children – warned of the repercussions of the hostilities on the catastrophic humanitarian situation.

The statement said that the risks of protecting people fleeing from the front lines is a matter of grave concern, as the current sites for internally displaced people have become increasingly overcrowded, with a significant shortage of funds, resulting in a response that is completely unable to deal with the crisis.

He added that humanitarian needs far exceed current humanitarian capacities on the ground, as the city of Marib hosts overcrowded camps, with a battered service and health care system, fragile infrastructure, and an increasingly weak host community.

Yemeni army forces backed by tribesmen face the escalating Houthi attack on Marib (Reuters)

field position

Despite the crisis, a high-ranking government military source in Marib said that handing over the city to the Houthis is completely out of the question, and downplayed the military importance of the Houthi advance in the south of the province, pointing out that they are open areas and far from the city.

He told Al Jazeera Net, “There are red lines that the Houthis will not cross even if we fight to the last soldier. Marib is the haven for all Yemenis who have resisted the Houthis since their control of Sanaa, and if they control it, they will control all of Yemen, but the military equation will change in the coming days.”

The source – who preferred not to be identified as he was not authorized to speak to the media – added that all the areas that the Houthis controlled for a year and a half ago were previously taken over by the army in a short time and will regain them again as well.

But Ali al-Qahoum says that the decision to control the city of Marib is a foregone conclusion, and it must be, noting that the city in its current state constitutes a source of threat to the capital, Sanaa, and Yemen in general.

He explained that the Reconciliation Committee – of which he is a member – is making efforts to spare the city of Ma’rib from the battles, noting that these efforts are the ones who stopped the process of storming the city, which is under siege. “Many residents of the city and the governorate responded to the reconciliation committee to avoid fighting,” he said.

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