Rain And Flash Floods Leave 300,000 Homeless In Yemen

1 Sep 2020 by Staff - Water Diplomat
SANA'A, Yemen

Three months of torrential rain and flash floods have left an estimated 300,000 people homeless in war-torn Yemen, the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) said 28 August.

Many of those people newly displaced by the floods had already been forced to flee their homes because of the ongoing conflict in the country. Amid food shortages, without their livestock or crops, people are having to shelter in schools, mosques, abandoned buildings, with relatives, or live out in the open.

The floods have killed at least 148 people in the last two months alone.

The rainy season is set to continue, so thousands more people may yet be impacted. Dams are becoming increasingly overwhelmed, and some are in poor condition because of neglect over recent years.

A sudden burst of the Al-Roone dam released 250,000 cubic metres of water, affecting thousands of displaced people in in Al-Tahseen, Souq al-Lill and elsewhere.

A dam in Marib has reached its overflow level, raising concerns that it could burst and destroy an irrigated area downstream where thousands of displaced people are located.

Unable to socially distance, and with little access to fresh water for sanitation, displaced communities are especially vulnerable to Covid-19.

UNHCR is providing aid, but is warning that a lack of funds means its stock of shelter and emergency aid items will run out within a matter of weeks.

More than 80 Percent of Yemen’s population – or over 24 million people – now rely on humanitarian aid to survive, following five years of conflict. Almost four million have been displaced within the country.

In June this year an open letter, signed by thirty international agencies and charitable organisations, pleaded for fulfilment of commitments for aid to Yemen.

The signatories described how over five years of conflict have damaged water systems, leaving the health sector on the brink of collapse and have contributed to outbreaks of disease, including cholera.