The U.N. (United Nations) has classified Yemen to be the largest humanitarian crisis in the world – with almost 80% of the population of 24 million people, requiring immediate life-saving assistance. Due to the years of ongoing civil war, the nation faces repercussions in the form of a severe cholera epidemic, an increase in the risk of dengue and malaria, famine, acute malnutrition in children, and lack of a proper healthcare system for its citizens. Yemen, one of the Arab world’s poorest countries, is grappling to fight COVID-19 that is sweeping through the country.
Since 2015, the Saudi Arabia coalition has been at war with Yemen, lasting for five years. In 2011, the Arab Spring uprising across the Middle East and North Africa ended the 33-year rule of dictatorial President Ali Abdullah Saleh – who was forced to hand over the position to his deputy, Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi.
President Hadi failed to maintain the stability expected in the nation and struggled with problems such as jihadists attacks, corruption, food insecurity, unemployment, and continuing loyalty of many military officers to Saleh. In 2014, the Houthi Shia Muslim rebel movement took advantage of the President’s vulnerability by taking control of the country’s capital Sanaa, Saada provinces, and neighboring areas which forced the President to exile from his country in 2015. Since then, the coalition formed between Saudi, UAE, and U.N.-recognized government of President Hadi is in a war with Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen.
According to the U.N., Yemen is facing an emergency within an emergency due to the Covid-19 depredation. The virus has infected 1128 people and has claimed 304 lives as of 30 June. Reportedly, the country has a lesser case count only because of its limited and near-total absence of testing. Additionally, the Houthis withhold information about positive test results and the scale of the outbreak. The local health ministry, international aid officials, medical staff, journalists, and families have been denied to talk about the possible transmission by the Houthis. Based on modeling by a group at Imperial College in London, ‘WHO is bracing for the novel coronavirus to infect about half of Yemen’s population and kill an estimated 30,000 to 40,000’.
The majority of health facilities in Yemen are rendered dysfunctional or are on the brink of collapse. There is a massive shortage of doctors, proper operational health equipment – masks, gloves, PPEs, oxygen supply, clean water, and sanitation to treat COVID-19. Symptomatic patients are turned away from treatment by health officials. “If you are suspected of having corona and you are in Aden (temporary capital of Yemen), most probably you will wait at home for your death,” stated Mohammed Roubaid, deputy head of the Aden’s health office.
Only USD 1.35 billion was netted out of the USD 2.42 billion appealed by the U.N. to aid war-torn nations. “The death toll from the pandemic could exceed the combined toll of war, disease, and hunger over the last five years (in Yemen)”, said the U.N.’s head of humanitarian operations in Yemen, Lise Grande.
Featured Image Via TRTWorld.