Fighting forces mass evacuation in Saudi
People from more than 240 villages have been forced to flee as the kingdom’s border tensions with Yemen escalate.
November 15, 2009 12:27 by Aarti Nagraj
Thousands of people have been evacuated from their homes in Saudi Arabia after fighting from neighboring Yemen has spread into the kingdom, according to the United Nations.
“Fighting has now spilled into Saudi Arabia, reportedly causing 240 villages to be evacuated and more than 50 schools to be closed, ” Sigrid Kaag, regional director of UNICEF said in a statement on Friday.
Earlier this month, Saudi launched a military operation against Yemeni rebels, known as Houthis, who they claimed infiltrated the kingdom’s territory and seized mountainous villages near the border. According to reports, nine Saudis have been killed in the offensive so far – five soldiers and four civilians – and the Saudi council of ministers has pledged a “zero tolerance for intruders.”
More than 3,473 families have been displaced by the fighting in Saudi, Abduraboh Hakmey, chairman of the World Assembly of Muslim Youth in the Jizan region told the Saudi Gazette last week. And those displaced are now living in makeshift camps away from the Saudi-Yemeni border.
“We have established a committee to look at what these people need. Many of them are orphans and others are poor,” Hakmey said. Sources also told the paper that the Ministry of Finance has provided more than 1,500 tents and food for the refugees. The government has also provided SR2,000 ($533) to each family.
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