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Yemen war forces over 32,000 civilians from their homes in past two months Open in fullscreen

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Yemen war forces over 32,000 civilians from their homes in past two months

More than 22 million people in Yemen are in need of humanitarian assistance [AFP]

Date of publication: 21 January, 2018

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Tens of thousands of Yemenis had fled their homes in the past two months, joining some two million refugees already displaced by fighting, the UNHCR said in a statement.

Over 32,000 Yemenis were forced to flee their homes in the past two months, the United Nations refugee agency has said, just as the war is weeks away from entering its third year.

They join some two million Yemenis already displaced by the war, the UNHCR said in a statement.

"The arrival of winter in Yemen, when temperatures can dip below zero degrees Celsius across a number of provinces, has worsened the hardship for many, particularly those displaced and living in informal settlements exposed to the elements with little protection against the cold," it said.

UNHCR spokeswoman Shabia Mantoo said flare-ups in fighting in the rebel-held capital Sanaa, as well as the provinces of Hodeidah on the Red Sea and oil-rich Shabwa in the south, had driven the displacements.

"We continue to see correlations between intensified hostilities and civilian casualties (plus) displacement," Mantoo tweeted on Friday.

More than 9,000 people have been killed in Yemen since a Saudi-led military coalition intervened in 2015 against the Houthi rebels with the aim of restoring the country's internationally-recognised government to power.

The coalition intensified its air campaign against the Houthis around Sanaa and on the country's west coast in December, after Saudi Arabia intercepted a ballistic missile the rebels had fired at its capital Riyadh.

On the ground, UAE-trained fighters and coalition forces have been advancing along the Red Sea coast in a drive to retake the rebel-held port city of Hodeidah, which is a key entry point for humanitarian supplies.

But the coalition has met strong resistance from the Iran-backed rebels, who continue to hold Sanaa and most of northern Yemen.

In mid-December, government forces retook Beihan district in Shabwa province from the Houthis, their last stronghold in the province.

"The latest violence has further exacerbated the world's worst humanitarian crisis, with more than 22 million people - around three quarters of the total population - in need of humanitarian assistance," the UNHCR said.

Saudi Arabia and its Gulf allies intervened in Yemen's war in 2015, backing forces loyal to President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi whose government was forced to flee Sanaa following a Houthi takeover of the capital.

Since then, the Arab coalition has been widely criticised for the huge civilian death toll from air strikes and blockades.

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