Marib conference status on the humanitarian crisis
April 16, 2021
On April 16, a panel of experts on Iranian foreign influence met to discuss the Iranian role in the Marib humanitarian disaster. The event was moderated by Irina Tsukerman, Media VP, Timberwolf-Phoenix LLC. The esteemed speakers included Ellie Cohanim, former U.S. State Department staffer, Simone Ledeen former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for the Middle East, and Michael Johns, Sr. founder of the Tea Party, and Nageeb Alsadee, the head of Executive Unit for the Displaced in Yemen.
Tsukerman called on Alsadee first, speaking to him through his translator.
“I would like to hear a little background on the current security situation in Marib,” said Tsukerman, asking for details on the current status of the Marib offensive and humanitarian needs.
Alsadee thanked all the organizers for the event and their special focus specifically on the situation in Marib today. He then explained that Marib was one of the second-largest cities in Yemen’s east, at least before 2014.
“Marib, which was one of the second biggest cities in Yemen, after the Houthi coup of September 21, witnessed important developments, including becoming a hub of refugees, especially those who had opposed the Houthis,” said Alsadee through his interpreter. The total number of Marib’s new settlers was estimated at around 1,900,000 people, which makes Marib today’s largest concentration of internally displaced people today.
“Marib also constituted and represented a safe haven for a large number of these people,” said Alsadee, citing its economic development at the time of the mass influx.
“Marib became densely populated after the exodus of a large number of internally displaced. We find in Marib no less than 340 internally displaced camps. Some host as many as 1,200 families.”
“Despite the large number and pressure on the city, the basic services remained available,” also said Alsadee, noting that the food, water, education, and health services of Marib stayed relatively as available as they were before the influx.
Marib continued to remain open to the Houthi attack during the human influx. The conflict and clashes in Marib proliferated. Alsadee stated that the incursions continue to verge closer to the city.
“The internally displaced camps were the direct target of the Houthis. Between February and March 26, ballistic missiles were launched on these camps, as well as 74 drones, flown into the area with the aim of attacking these camps,” said Alsadee.
He noted that the Houthi threats have become quite systematic. Sites targeted by Houthis are also the subject of disinformation campaigns, as the Houthis attack the camps, accusing them of ties to Al Qaeda. This is an alibi that they use to fuel their systematic attacks. The facts are entirely different, as most camp dwellers are civilians, with 79 percent of them being women and children.
There has been mounting pressure on the camps to meet the demand of human needs, forcing the authorities to move seven of them. Moving the camps resulted in increasing the demand due to the logistics of moving the camps and the families to a new location. This added increased pressure on humanitarian aid additional to the pressure of daily life demands in the situation.
“Despite these facts, the international community remains silent,” said Alsadee.
After Alsadee had given a complete summary of the status in Marib, the floor was turned over to expert panelists to recommend solutions for a deescalation of the conflict.