Tag Archives: OCHA

Yemen: UN reports some 4,000 people killed since March in escalating conflict, nearly half of them civilians

Boys hold shrapnel from exploded artillery shells while standing on a street damaged by blasts in Sana’a, the capital of Yemen. Photo: UNICEF/Mohamed Hamoud

Boys hold shrapnel from exploded artillery shells while standing on a street damaged by blasts in Sana’a, the capital of Yemen. Photo: UNICEF/Mohamed Hamoud

28 July 2015

The death toll in war-torn Yemen is almost 4,000 since the conflict had escalated mid-March, today said a representative for the United Nations World Health Organization (WHO).

“From 19 March and until 19 July, there were 3,984 deaths and 19,347 injuries, making a total of 23,331 deaths and injuries. These figures were based on what was reported from health facilities,” WHO spokesperson Tarik Jasarevic said during a press briefing in Geneva.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA), he said, bases its figures on what WHO compiles on the basis of information from health facilities.

According to Ravina Shamdasani, who spoke on behalf of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), the total number of civilians killed since March is 1,895 and 4,182 others have been injured.

Only between 16 and 27 July, she added, at least 202 civilians, including 36 women, had been killed, and 353 others injured. The most recent update from the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) brings the number of children killed to 365, while 484 others have been injured.

Top UN relief official in Yemen warns of conflict’s ‘catastrophic’ consequences; urges humanitarian access

27 July 2015

Witnessing first-hand the “shocking” devastation in Yemen’s main port city of Aden, the top United Nations relief official in the country today declared that the humanitarian consequences of the conflict are “catastrophic,” making an urgent plea for safe, unhindered access for aid workers and a major scale-up of funding.

“The intensification of violence and conflict over the past four months have devastated the city and destroyed the lives and livelihoods of the majority of its people. As has become all too familiar in contexts of war, civilians are paying the heaviest price,” the UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Yemen, Johannes van der Klaauw, said in a statement issued by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

“I heard numerous accounts of death, hunger and utter desperation as mothers and fathers struggle to find safety, security and care for their loved ones.”

Mr. van der Klaauw’s remarks come just hours after UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon welcomed the announcement by the Saudi-led Coalition of a unilateral five-day humanitarian pause in Yemen, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is calling on all parties to the conflict to suspend military operations and facilitate safe, unhindered access of relief workers to desperate populations throughout the crisis-riven country.

In his statement today, Mr. van der Klaauw painted a grim picture of the situation, saying the level of destruction in Aden and the high number of civilian deaths and injuries, estimated at over 23,000 nationwide, is a “shocking” testament to the suffering faced by the civilian population.

Counter to all the responsibilities that conflict parties must adhere to under international humanitarian law, the damage to critical infrastructure in the whole country, including hospitals, schools, air and sea ports, mosques, and residential premises is “unacceptable”, he accused.

“I repeat my plea to all parties of the conflict to put an end to the attacks on civilians and to end the destruction of critical infrastructure, vital for supplying essential goods and services to the civilian population.”

In Aden, scaling up the humanitarian response effort means urgently restoring healthcare services, repairing and servicing water and sanitation systems, providing emergency shelter to displaced families, increasing the distribution of food and basic commodities such as blankets, mattresses and other household items.

“We need to get children back to school and provide psycho-social support to the women, men, girls and boys that have witnessed and experienced unspeakable violence in a city that has seen some of the bloodiest fighting since the escalation of conflict in March,” the Humanitarian Coordinator underscored.

Against that background, parties to the conflict must provide rapid, safe and unimpeded humanitarian access to all people in need, he demanded. “Current access constraints meant I had to reach Aden via Djibouti on a twelve hour boat ride. We need more direct access and I call on all parties to the conflict to open all land routes and facilitate the use of air and sea ports to enable humanitarian agencies to rapidly deliver much needed life-saving assistance.”

Explaining that funding is another immediate requirement, Mr. M. van der Klaauw reminded that the Yemen humanitarian appeal has received “only” 15 per cent of the requested $1.6 billion required for 2015.

“I call on all donors to show their generosity and solidarity to the Yemeni people in this desperate time of need.”

Humanitarian community in Yemen: Predictable humanitarian access and funding urgently required in Yemen

(Sana’a, 15 July 2015)

Yemenis continue to suffer immensely as violence escalates unabated. This week has seen some of the deadliest days recorded since the conflict escalated in March. Mosques, schools and markets have been hit in attacks with deadly consequences for civilians. Close to 1.3 million people have been forced to flee their homes in the desperate search for safety and security. More than 3,500 have been killed and 16,000 injured.

Air strikes, ground clashes, reduced commercial imports, dwindling food and fuel stocks, collapsing health, water, and education systems, and eroding communal safety nets have turned Yemen into a humanitarian catastrophe. Today, 21 million people require humanitarian assistance – that is a staggering 80 per cent of the Yemeni population.

More than 4.4 million people have received humanitarian aid since March. This includes 2 million people fed; 33,000 children treated for severe acute malnutrition; 3.3 million people supported with water and sanitation services; and about 880,000 reached with urgent healthcare. Last week alone, UN convoys reached Aden with medical equipment, vaccines, food, cooking supplies and hygiene items to assist over half a million people across the frontlines.

Despite the efforts by humanitarians, the needs far surpass the humanitarian response capacity. To scale up, the humanitarian community urgently requires funding. Yemen’s humanitarian appeal has received only 15 per cent of the requested $1.6 billion required until the end of 2015.

We call on all parties to the conflict to urgently ensure the protection of civilians, to abide by international humanitarian law, and to allow the safe and rapid passage of humanitarian assistance to all people in need.

The humanitarian consequences of a continued escalation in violence, restrictions on imports and a freefalling economy are unimaginable.

For further information, please call:
Philippe Kropf, OCHA Yemen, kropf@un.org, +967 71 2222 819
Jessica Jordan, OCHA Yemen, jordanj@un.org +962 7 9867 4617
Iyad Nasr, OCHA ROMENA, nasri@un.org, +20 10 9555 8662

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Yemen: amid ‘massive’ humanitarian crisis, UN reports civilian death toll now exceeds 1,500

A child gets vaccinated for polio at Al-Olufi Health Center, downtown Sanaa. Yemen presently has vaccines for nearly 5 million children under 5 (Polio) and 250,000 children under 15 (measles) in conflict-affected areas. There is a risk that these may get damaged if the cold rooms that store the vaccines stop working because of shortage of fuel in the country. Across the country, much needed basic services have been largely paralyzed as fuel, water and food resources run out.

A child gets vaccinated for polio at Al-Olufi Health Center, downtown Sanaa. Yemen presently has vaccines for nearly 5 million children under 5 (Polio) and 250,000 children under 15 (measles) in conflict-affected areas. There is a risk that these may get damaged if the cold rooms that store the vaccines stop working because of shortage of fuel in the country. Across the country, much needed basic services have been largely paralyzed as fuel, water and food resources run out.

7 July 2015

The United Nations human rights office is among several key UN entities voicing deep concern over the worsening human rights and humanitarian situation in Yemen that has more than 1,500 civilians dead, 3,600 injured and 1 million displaced in three months of violence.

Underscoring that civilians continued to bear the brunt of the conflict, Cécile Pouilly, spokesperson for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) updated the press in Geneva that between 17 June and 3July, at least 92 civilians – including 18 women and 18 children – were killed with another 179 injured – including 43 women and 30 children. Since the conflict began, more than 1 million civilians had been internally displaced or sought refuge in neighbouring countries.

“Since 17 June, coalition forces have continued aerial bombardment and other attacks. Ground clashes, shelling, sniper fire and detonation of improvised explosive devices have also been reported in different governorates in Yemen,” she said.

Over the past few weeks, OHCHR documented rights violations and abuses and violations of international humanitarian law by all parties to the conflict, including violations of the right to life, abduction, ill-treatment and attacks against humanitarian workers, journalists and media organizations.

“Dozens of civilians have been abducted and subjected to arbitrary detention in Sana’a. We have also received worrying reports that local Popular Resistance committees affiliated with exiled President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi have summarily executed at least six people perceived to be loyal to the Houthi-Saleh coalition and committed acts of ill-treatment.”

Additionally, OHCHR has been closely monitoring attacks by the conflict parties against UN offices, citing an airstrike on 28 June that wounded one civilian and partially destroyed the UN Development Programme (UNDP) office in Khormaksar, Aden. The International Organization for Migration (IOM) was struck twice, once by a mortar in Basateen and again by an airstrike in Harad.

The UN rights office is also acutely worried about increasing attacks against places of worship, pointing to the targeting of five Zaydi mosques with car bombs over the past few weeks as an alarming trend to create sectarian divisions.

“Since 17 June, there has been further destruction of civilian infrastructure, with at least 36 buildings, including hospitals, schools, court houses, power generation facilities and communications institutions partially or totally damaged in the governorates of Sana’a, Aden, Taiz, Al-Jawf, Al-Mahwit, and Hajjah,” said Ms. Pouilly said.

Humanitarian access also remains severely constrained by the recent violence. Since the beginning of the conflict, land, air and maritime restrictions have severely reduced imports – with food and other essentials dropping significantly.

“We have also received reports of very serious constraints to humanitarian access in Aden, Al-Dhali, Taiz and Lahj, where Houthi-affiliated Popular Committees and armed forces units loyal to former President Ali Abdalla Saleh have set up checkpoints controlling entry and exit of goods.” noted Ms. Pouilly.

In addition to insecurity on the roads and blocked access to food and clean water, civilians have been imposed with movement restrictions. Yemen’s healthcare system continues to deteriorate as medicine shortages, essential medical supplies and fuel have reached critical levels.

“Once again,” Ms. Pouilly stressed, “we urge all sides of the conflict to ensure that international human rights law and international humanitarian law are respected, and to ensure that all feasible measures are taken to protect civilians. International humanitarian law imposes on parties to a conflict the duty to allow and facilitate rapid and unimpeded passage of humanitarian relief for civilians in need. “

In response to a question on attacks against United Nations offices, she called on all parties to respect the inviolability of UN premises, in accordance with applicable international law protecting UN facilities, including the Convention on the Safety of United Nations and associated personnel.

At the same time, Adrian Edwards, spokesperson for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), said that on Saturday, 4 July, a rocket blasted a kindergarten in Aden, killing 12 refugees.

“Since the closure of schools across Yemen at the end of May, schools and kindergartens were used to accommodate internally displaced persons. Refugees and internally displaced families were among the most vulnerable, and the UNHCR thus again called on all parties to allow unfettered access for humanitarian aid,” he said.

Mr. Edwards added that there are some 250,000 refugees in Yemen, whereas more than 46,000 persons had fled the country. At the same time, some 35,000 had crossed into Yemen from the Horn of Africa by boat since the beginning of the year.

“Clearly, there is a massive humanitarian crisis…in Yemen,” said Jens Laerke, spokesperson for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), who said the UN’s $1.6 billion dollar appeal is only partially funded. He explained however that no cash had been taken away from other operations because the Yemen relief appeal is underfunded.

US$25mn provided for humanitarian effort in Yemen

Emergency aid being offloaded from a UNHCR vessel at the Hodeidah Port, Yemen. Photo: UNHCR/A. Zabarah

Emergency aid being offloaded from a UNHCR vessel at the Hodeidah Port, Yemen. Photo: UNHCR/A. Zabarah

25 June 2015 – United Nations Radio

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Twenty-five million US dollars to support lifesaving humanitarian assistance in Yemen has been provided from a UN emergency fund.

The money will be used for projects which provide water and sanitation access, among other relief efforts.

More than 21 million Yemenis—or 80 per cent of the population—are in need of humanitarian assistance as vital services have collapsed, according to the UN Office for Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

Dianne Penn reports.

UN humanitarian chief Stephen O’Brien pointed out that it is “innocent civilians” who are paying a terrible price for the crisis in Yemen. 

He said they face daily airstrikes, shelling and fighting, while medical supplies, fuel and food are running out. 

The US$25 million allocation from the UN Central Emergency Respond Fund (CERF) will support critical relief projects including providing fuel, medicine, emergency supplies, and clean water and sanitation services. 

It also will help aid agencies deliver assistance via increased humanitarian air services and improved port facilities.

 The fund pools donor contributions to be used for urgent relief work anywhere in the world. 

Since its inception nearly a decade ago, it has allocated more than US$4 billion to operations in 95 countries and territories.

Dianne Penn, United Nations

UN releases emergency funding for relief efforts in crisis-torn Yemen

Emergency aid being offloaded from a UNHCR vessel at the Hodeidah Port, Yemen. Photo: UNHCR/A. Zabarah

Emergency aid being offloaded from a UNHCR vessel at the Hodeidah Port, Yemen. Photo: UNHCR/A. Zabarah

25 June 2015

The United Nations humanitarian arm today announces it will provide a critical injection of emergency funding in order to accelerate relief efforts to war-trapped civilians in Yemen, the Organization has confirmed.

According to an announcement made by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), $25 million will be released from the UN Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) in order to support lifesaving projects including the provision of fuel, medicine, emergency supplies, clean water, sanitation services and nutrition programmes to Yemenis in need.

“Innocent civilians in Yemen are paying a terrible price,” said UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Stephen O’Brien, in a press release. “They face daily airstrikes, shelling and fighting while medical supplies, fuel and food are running out, and basic services have collapsed.”

The humanitarian situation in Yemen has been progressively deteriorating by the day despite ongoing UN-backed efforts to help national stakeholders reach a political solution to the crisis.

The collapse of basic services and extreme shortages of food and fuel have had a devastating impact across the whole country, added Mr. O’Brien during a press conference.

“More than 21 million people – that’s 80 per cent of the population – now need humanitarian assistance. Health facilities report that over 2,800 people have been killed and 13,000 injured since the violence escalated in March. At least 1,400 civilians have lost their lives; these numbers are likely to be significant underestimates.”

According to a recent joint survey released by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Food Programme (WFP), six million people in Yemen are slipping towards severe hunger and now need emergency food and life-saving assistance, a sharp increase from the last quarter of 2014. In addition to the population facing a food security ’emergency,’ over 6.5 million people are classified as facing a food insecurity security ‘crisis.’

Meanwhile, the study added, 10 out of Yemen’s 22 governorates are now classified as facing food insecurity at ’emergency’ level. Millions more are highly vulnerable and could easily fall into emergency levels unless there is a dramatic improvement in the availability and access to food at prices that most people can afford.

The humanitarian stresses brought on by the conflict, however, have only compounded the already severe human toll of the fighting.

OCHA has noted that thousands of people in the country have been killed and injured by airstrikes and ground fighting in the last three months alone while over 1 million people have fled their homes.

“The parties to this conflict show an utter disregard for human life, repeatedly attacking civilian infrastructure, including hospitals, schools, power stations and water installations,” deplored the Under-Secretary-General.

Finally, the dire situation has also aggravated the country’s health infrastructure as a recent World Health Organization (WHO) analysis reported over 3,000 suspected dengue cases across the country.

UN Emergency Fund releases $25 million to support critical aid operations in Yemen

New York, 25 June 2015

United Nations humanitarian chief Stephen O’Brien is releasing US$25 million from the UN Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) to support lifesaving assistance for millions of people affected by the devastating humanitarian crisis in Yemen. “Innocent civilians in Yemen are paying a terrible price,” said the UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator. “They face daily airstrikes, shelling and fighting while medical supplies, fuel and food are running out, and basic services have collapsed.” The conflict in Yemen has intensified since March this year, and today over 21 million Yemenis – a staggering 80 per cent of the country’s population – need humanitarian assistance. Damaged infrastructure and a major fuel shortfall have added to deepening food insecurity, caused significant disruptions in the provision of basic services including water, sanitation and healthcare, and hampered the delivery of urgent aid. Despite these immense challenges and the serious safety concerns that come with working in a conflict zone, relief organizations on the ground are working hard to reach people in need. The allocation from CERF will support critical relief projects including providing fuel, medicine, emergency supplies, clean water, sanitation services and nutrition programmes to people in need. It will help aid agencies deliver lifesaving assistance through increased humanitarian air services and improved port facilities. Aid agencies in Yemen have received $107 million from CERF for critical assistance since 2007. CERF pools donor contribution in a single fund so that money is available to start or continue urgent relief work anywhere in the world. Since its inception in 2006, 125 UN Member States and dozens of private-sector donors and regional Governments have contributed to the Fund. CERF has allocated more than $4 billion in support of humanitarian operations in 95 countries and territories.

For further information, please contact: Michelle Delaney, OCHA New York, +1 917 226 6308, +1 917 367 4568, delaneym@un.org Tomas de Mul, CERF secretariat, +1 917 367 6013, +1 917 250 8400, demul@un.org OCHA press releases are available at www.unocha.org or www.reliefweb.int

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At least 3,000 suspected Dengue fever cases reported in Yemen – UN health agency

WHO and the Cleaning and Improvement Fund in Yemen have launched a cleanup campaign targeting Al-Tahrir and Maen districts, the two most populated areas in Sana’a, where tons of garbage continue to accumulate. Photo: WHO Yemen

WHO and the Cleaning and Improvement Fund in Yemen have launched a cleanup campaign targeting Al-Tahrir and Maen districts, the two most populated areas in Sana’a, where tons of garbage continue to accumulate. Photo: WHO Yemen

23 June 2015

Thousands of suspected cases of the mosquito-borne viral infection Dengue fever have been reported in conflict-ravaged Yemen, where a major health crisis is unfolding, the United Nations World Health Organization announced today.

WHO spokesman Christian Lindmeier told reporters at UN headquarters in Geneva that more than 3,000 suspected cases of Dengue had been reported in Yemen since March 20 with some non-governmental organizations flagging more than 6,000 cases.

The latest development comes just days after WHO said Yemen’s health system is on the verge of breakdown. Hospitals have been destroyed, health workers killed and critical shortages of food, medical supplies and fuel are causing large-scale suffering, and it is only thanks to the heroic efforts of the country’s health workers, the resilience of its brave people and the tireless efforts of national and international humanitarian organizations that any semblance of health care is being provided.

In addition, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) report that health kits, IV fluids and other essential medicines have been delivered to health facilities in four governorates in Yemen in the past week, for the treatment of more than 438,000 people, including treatment of patients with dengue fever.

In Geneva today, the WHO spokesman said that Dengue fever in Yemen followed a seasonal pattern with a high number of cases being reported between April and August annually, but the conflict had led to a large increase in the number of cases reported this year.

The current crisis in Yemen had severely impacted access to water, sanitation, preventive and clinical services, and shelter in many governorates that has led to an increased risk of disease outbreaks, particularly among the internally displaced people and the large segments of the population affected by the crisis, according to Mr. Lindmeier.

“Hundreds of cases were expected in Aden alone in the coming weeks,” he said.

He also said that access to care had been severely impacted with a nearly 50 percent drop in consultations since the conflict began in 2015.

WHO said that together with Yemen’s Ministry of Health, they have developed an outbreak control and response strategy for the suspected Dengue cases, which included measures such as strengthened laboratory capacity, the provision of bed nets, insecticide and spraying equipment, and transportation and implementation.

However, “access was the biggest challenge,” Mr. Lindmeier said.

Dengue fever is a severe, flu-like illness that affects infants, young children and adults, but seldom causes death, according to a WHO factsheet, which also says there is no specific treatment for dengue fever but early detection and access to proper medical care lowers fatality rates below 1 per cent.

Yemen: US$1.6bn appeal to tackle “looming humanitarian catastrophe”

19 June 2015 – United Nations Radio

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Aid agencies are appealing for US$1.6 billion in the face of what the UN humanitarian chief  has described as a “looming humanitarian catastrophe” in Yemen.

The UN Humanitarian Office (OCHA)reports that more than 21 million Yemenis, or 80 per cent of the population, are in need of assistance as basic services collapse and hunger increases.

Airstrikes and ground fighting over the past three months have killed or injured thousands, and more than one million people have fled their homes for safer areas.

Stephanie Coutrix reports.

Yemen: UNESCO deplores destruction of Sana’a heritage site bearing ‘soul of Yemeni people’

The Old City of Sana’a, Yemen. Photo: ©UNESCO/Francesco Bandarin

The Old City of Sana’a, Yemen. Photo: ©UNESCO/Francesco Bandarin

12 June 2015

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) condemned the early morning bombing raid today on the Old City of the Yemeni capital Sana’a, saying ‘”this heritage bears the soul of the Yemeni people, it is a symbol of a millennia history of knowledge and it belongs to all humankind.”

The United Nations announced that consultations on Yemen, previously scheduled to kick off Sunday, would instead begin on Monday, 15 June, in Geneva and that Secretary-GeneralBan Ki-moon would attend.

“Coordinated by the United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Yemen, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, the Consultations mark an important step as the parties embark on the road towards a settlement,” UN spokesman Ahmad Fawzi told reporters at the UN briefing in Geneva.

Meanwhile, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) welcomed the announcement of an allocation of $100 million by Kuwait to allocate to help the people of Yemen. This is party of a larger donation from Kuwait that also included $200 million for strife-torn Iraq.

The World Health Organization (WHO), meanwhile, reported that the most recent casualty figures in Yemen as a result of the conflict was 2,584 deaths and 11,065 people injured.

UNESCO report that the early hours of this morning, the Old City of Sana’a, a UNESCO World Heritagesite, was hit by a bombing raid and several houses and historic buildings were destroyed, causing human casualties.

“I am profoundly distressed by the loss of human lives as well as by the damage inflicted on one of the world’s oldest jewels of Islamic urban landscape,” UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova said in a statement.

The agency reported that in this morning’s raid on the Yemeni capital, the buildings destroyed, the agency said, was the “magnificent complex of traditional houses” in the Al-Qasimi neighbourhood.

“I am shocked by the images of these magnificent many-storeyed tower-houses and serene gardens reduced to rubble,” Ms. Bokova said. “This destruction will only exacerbate the humanitarian situation and I reiterate my call to all parties to respect and protect cultural heritage in Yemen.”

“This heritage bears the soul of the Yemeni people, it is a symbol of a millennia history of knowledge and it belongs to all humankind,” she said.

UNESCO created the idea of World Heritage to protect sites of outstanding universal value as part of its mandate to protect heritage and support for cultural diversity.

Sana’a has been inhabited for more than 2,500 years and bears witness to the wealth and beauty of the Islamic civilization, according to UNESCO. By the first century, it emerged as a centre of the inland trade route and its houses and public buildings are an outstanding example of a traditional, Islamic human settlement. Sana’a’s dense rammed earth and burnt brick towers, strikingly decorated, are famous around the world and are an integral part of Yemen’s identity and pride.

Since the beginning of the conflict in Yemen, UNESCO reported, several houses within the heritage city of Sana’a have suffered damage and collapses as a consequence of shelling and explosions. On 9 June, the Ottoman era Al-Owrdhi historical compound, located just outside the walls of the Old City, were severely damaged. Historic residential buildings, monuments, museums, archaeological sites and places of worship have not been spared.

“The historic value and memories enshrined in these sites have been irreparably damaged or destroyed,” it said.

On the humanitarian front, the International Organization for Migration (IOM), said there were disturbing reports regarding stranded migrants in Yemen in the city of Haradh who were in a life threatening situation.

And WHO said between 27 March and 4 June 2015 there had been more than 3,000 cases of Dengue fever recorded in Yemen. Unconfirmed reports from the national authorities suggested that the number of cases of Dengue fever, especially in the Aden Governorate, could be much higher.