This is the 6th and last part of a short explainer article series on the current crisis in Yemen. To read the earlier parts of the series click on the link.
To read the 1st part of the series click on the link.
To read the 2nd part of the series click on the link.
To read the 3rd part of the series click on the link.
To read the 4th part of the series click on the link.
To read the 5th part of the series click on the link.
The civil war in Yemen, more so after 2015 has taken a toll on the civic infrastructure of the already fragile and poor country. Among these, the healthcare infrastructure of the country was one of the worst affected.
Apart from the physical damage to the hospitals and clinics due to the aerial bombings by the Saudi Arabia led coalition, the naval blockades exacerbated the dire situation. In June 2015 itself, aid agencies warned of the humanitarian risks brought by the US and UK-backed Saudi blockades.
The humanitarian situation aggravated further as there was a consistent famine since 2016 and Yemen was dependent on foreign aid for feeding almost 80% of its population. According to UNICEF reports, over 3.3 million children and pregnant or lactating women suffer from acute malnutrition.
Major healthcare operatives are dying due to the active bombing and conflict in Yemen, including personnel from MSF and United Nations Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHO).
The MSF (or Doctors Without Borders), who have been in Yemen since 2007, have reported that fears of stigmatization are causing people to stay away from hospitals, with misinformation and lack of medical services only compounding the healthcare issue during the pandemic.
As of 24th July, the country reports 1640 confirmed infections and 458 related deaths. Al Jazeera reported that “Cemeteries in Aden are overflowing with graves, suggesting that the number of people killed by the new coronavirus is higher than the official count.” Yemen and its related aid agencies also suffer from lack of PPEs and adequate information about the pandemic.
As of April 2020, there are 800,000 internally displaced persons in just one province of Yemen Marib. The number of verified civilian deaths stands at 7,700.
The United Nations has been continually asking for donations, but has failed to collect as much as it requires. While it collected $4 billion last year, it has only received $700 million, halfway into 2020.
The UN urged for $2.4 billion this year to fight the humanitarian crises and the Coronavirus. As of 2nd June, 29 countries and the European Commission pledged a total of $1.35 billion to support humanitarian efforts in Yemen, just over half of the amount needed to sustain programs through the end of this year.
In April 2020, the Saudi deputy defence minister, Prince Khalid bin Salman, said Saudi Arabia “will contribute $500m to the UN humanitarian relief program for Yemen in 2020, and an additional $25m to help combat the pandemic. It is up to Houthis to put the health and safety of the Yemeni people above all else.”
There are 41 major UN programmes in Yemen, and it is estimated that more than 30 of them will close due to lack of funds. The UN stated, “Due to the COVID-19 suppression measures, all integrated outreach activities, which include the Expanded Programme on Immunization, Integrated Management of Childhood Illness, Maternal and Newborn Health,and nutrition activities, were suspended.”
Most of Yemen's 3,500 medical facilities have been damaged or destroyed in air strikes, and only half are thought to be fully functioning. Officials warn that monetary relief may not be enough to assist in the war against the pandemic alongside the Civil War. A solution to the war must be found soon, before the pandemic eviscerates more of the healthcare infrastructure.