Last Updated: Mon Jan 30, 2012 14:25 pm (KSA) 11:25 am (GMT)

Qaeda clashes leave thousands of Yemenis homeless: official

The ongoing clashes between Yemeni forces and al-Qaeda have left thousands homeless and created a refugee crisis in the south of the country, said official sources. (Reuters)
The ongoing clashes between Yemeni forces and al-Qaeda have left thousands homeless and created a refugee crisis in the south of the country, said official sources. (Reuters)

The ongoing clashes between Yemeni forces and al-Qaeda have left thousands homeless and created a refugee crisis in the south of the country, said official sources.

“Around 100,000 Yemenis left the southern governorate of Abyan to the neighboring governorates of Aden and Lahij,” Mohamed Saeid Omran, head of the Abyan Refugees Committee, told Al Arabiya.

The mass exodus, he added, was due to the security forces’ clampdown on al-Qaeda operatives, which has been taking place for the past few months.

Brigadier General Saleh al-Zoarim, governor of Abyan, said that the capital Zinjibar and other neighboring areas are still under the control of al-Qaeda militants.

“The infrastructure of the city and it suburbs is totally destroyed, which paralyzed the place and made life there impossible.”

Most refugees leaving Abyan had nowhere to go except the mosques, schools, and government buildings of Aden and Lahij. This had a negative impact on the receiving governorates, since work and classes in the places they are now living in have been interrupted.

The refugees were not given any kind of aid, said Omar Mohammed, who left Abyan with his family.

“We were only helped by some of the residents who opened their houses for us and gave us food,” he said.

Omar called upon the Yemeni government and relief agencies to send them aid as soon as possible.

The majority of refugees are shepherds who took their cattle with them and managed to sell their products, yet this was not enough to sustain them for an appreciable amount of time.

The aid offered by the Red Cross in cooperation with the Yemeni Red Crescent was also not enough with the increasing number of refugees and the long time they have been away from home.

According to Mariam al-Kholi, head of the Red Cross sub-committee in Aden, the refugees are in need of a lot of humanitarian aid.

“They specifically need clean water and foodstuffs, as well as medical care,” she said.

Political analyst Kamel al-Sharaabi said the problem of Abyan is not being solved because the government is busy with other things.

“The government is preoccupied with fighting al-Qaeda and dealing with refugees from northern areas following clashes with the Houthis.”

Anti-regime protests and the subsequent economic crisis, Sharaabi added, have also distracted the government.

“Yemen is going through a difficult phase and any aid is now linked to the success of early presidential elections scheduled for February 21.”

(Translated from Arabic by Sonia Farid)

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