The tragedy of Yemen is exacerbated. The health sector is unable to cope with the potential outbreak of COVID-19.
The humanitarian crisis in Yemen is exacerbated after the arrival of COVID-19 to the country. The Yemenis found themselves facing a new tragedy that added to the tragedies of war, siege, famine and other diseases that kill millions of them.
What confirms these fears is the spread of COVID-19 in the vicinity of Yemen (i.e. Sultanate of Oman, Saudi Arabia, Djibouti and Somalia). The authorities in Yemen failed to implement the decision of closing the land, sea and air outlets. During the last few days, Yemen has witnessed active military and civilian air traffic for the “coalition”, through Aden and Maharah airports. Besides, the flow of African migrants continues to Yemen. Moreover, Saudi Arabia has demobilized large numbers of Yemeni armed groups fighting for it in the south of the kingdom, areas where the epidemic is believed to be spreading, as well as deporting hundreds of Yemenis from Saudi Arabia through land ports.
Saudi Arabia deports hundreds of Africans to Yemen with the aim of spreading COVID-19 before taking the necessary health measures to ensure that the deportees are free from COVID-19 infection and without making quarantine for 14 days before deportation.
Despite international concerns related to the threat of a potential outbreak of COVID-19 in Yemen, the United States decided to reduce funding for international humanitarian aid to Yemen.
A spokesman for the US Agency for International Development (USAID) announced that the agency’s “operations were partially suspended” in areas controlled by the National Salvation Government in Sana’a, where more than 80% of the citizens of the Republic of Yemen reside.
This matter comes at a time when international relief organizations fear that the emergence of the first case of “COVID-19” is the beginning of a catastrophic epidemic in Yemen, within a fragile health system largely destroyed by the bombing of Saudi Arabia and the UAE warplanes on health facilities over more than five Years. In addition, the coalition imposes a blockade that prevents the arrival of medicines and medical supplies.
This decision calls for the withdrawal of US funding from the UN-administered humanitarian support efforts in Yemen. This threatens to cause a budget deficit in dozens of humanitarian programs, including efforts to provide Yemeni civilians with hand-wash soap and the essential health care services.
Thus, Yemen is in a real confrontation with COVID-19, which exacerbates the tragedy of the Yemenis, especially when they are facing other diseases that kill hundreds of thousands of people, including “cholera”, “diphtheria”, “malaria” and “dengue fever”.
On the other hand, the National Salvation Government in Sana’a held Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates responsible for the deteriorating health conditions in Yemen, stating that 93% of medical equipment and devices are out of service due to war and blockade, and calling the international organizations to provide artificial respirators to handle the supposed cases.
The spokesman for the Ministry of Health in Sana’a, Dr. Youssef Al-Hadhri, stated that “the danger of COVID-19 to Yemen lies in the fact that the health system is fundamentally fragile since the time of the previous regimes. The coalition countries have also destroyed the health sector and bombed more than 420 institutions and healthcare centers.” “Nearly two thousand institutions have been disrupted by the blockade, and the salaries of 48,000 employees in the private sector have been suspended since mid-2016,” he pointed out.
The National Salvation Government in Sana’a has announced the release of all child prisoners of war recruited by the coalition and captured by its forces during the fighting, in the presence of representatives of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). The National Committee for Prisoners’ Affairs (NCPA) in Sana’a had previously released a number of minors who had been exploited and recruited into the coalition countries’ side in its war on Yemen. Last January, the committee handed over to the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor 68 children who had been captured in “Nasrun min Allah” military operation, in preparation for their return to their families.
An agreement was signed in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs between Ministry of Defense and Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor. This agreement came based on the leadership’s commitment to “protect and promote the rights of children in Yemen” and that Sana’a treats child prisoners as “victims” and must be returned to their families after their rehabilitation. Accordingly, this agreement stipulates that, “the concerned authorities shall guarantee the treatment of child prisoners in accordance with International Humanitarian Law and International Human Rights Law.”