Back-To-Back Cyclones Cross Yemen, With People Now At The Mercy Of Both War And Weather

satellite image of cyclone over Yemen


ShelterBox is monitoring a tropical storm named Megh 15, poised to hit Yemen on the Arabian peninsula tomorrow, just three days after a cyclone caused deaths and flooding in the war-torn country.

The people of Yemen, Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea neighbour, are cowering in anticipation of another storm, expected to grow into a cyclone before it reaches land.

Just three days ago Cyclone Chapala, believed to be the most powerful storm to hit the region in decades, caused deaths and destroyed hundreds of homes on the island of Socotra. It then went on to kill at least eight people in the eastern coastal province of Hadramout. The port city of Mukalla was also flooded, and Jilaa – a village of around 1,150 people – was completely washed away.

ShelterBox is closely monitoring the situation as the new storm grows in ferocity out at sea. Our Operations Team is in touch with colleague agencies in Yemen.

ShelterBox Operations Coordinator Dave Ray says, We have been in contact with the coordination focal points and agencies in the wake of the last weather system affecting Yemen recently. As such we are well placed to get information on needs and aid gaps as they appear. At the present time there have been no requests for us to intervene or provide support to partners, but we will continue to monitor.’

This latest storm, badged as Megh 15, is expected to intensify into another cyclone over the next 24 hours. It is on course to make landfall on Sunday on the island of Socotra, 238 miles off the Yemen coast in the Arabian Sea, on Sunday. Socotra’s 50,000 residents have only had days to recover from cyclone Chapala.

The UN World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) says this is the first time this area has seen back-to-back cyclones within a single week. The freak weather has been caused by the ‘Indian Ocean dipole’, a phenomenon similar to El Nino caused when sea surface temperatures are higher than usual. The dipole normally dies down in November, but there are fears that even a third cyclone could be brewing after Megh 15.

The United Nations High Commission for Refugees says it is scaling up its response measures in preparation for Megh 15. Floods and hurricane winds have already displaced around 1,600 families in Hadramaut.

Yemen is already in the grip of a humanitarian crisis caused by the seven-month civil war between government forces and Houthi rebels. ShelterBox and other aid agencies have been concerned about Yemen since July, when fighting intensified causing the displacement of up to half a million people. Food and fuel are in short supply, and an increasing need for shelter is expected as storms and flooding add to the country’s problems.

The United Nations’ Global Disaster Alert and Coordination System has categorised the storm with an ‘Orange’ alert, meaning humanitarian impact is likely.

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