Yemen crisis deepens and world must act now, aid workers say
The poorest country in the Arab world has been in the grip of perpetual humanitarian catastrophe for years, but the situation can get even worse.
Despite multiple warnings from aid organizations that millions of people in Yemen are on the brink of famine, the world’s richest countries have been slow to set aside the funds needed for the war-torn country, the officials said. humanitarian workers.
“People in Yemen feel like they have been forgotten by the world as they suffer,” said Rabih Torbay, CEO of Project Hope, an international healthcare NGO.
A six-year civil conflict displaced 4 million people, devastated the economy and destroyed half of the hospitals in what was already the poorest Arab state.
“We can’t do that. We cannot forget the Yemeni people and we cannot forget the health workers. We need to keep this crisis on the radar screen until a solution is found, ”Torbay said. TRT World.
The World Food Program (WFP) has already warned that thousands of people in places like Hajjah, Amran and Al Jawf are at risk of starving to death.
This is not the first time that an alarm with a great sense of urgency has been sounded for a country where already 90 percent of the 30 million inhabitants depend on some kind of international food aid.
Experts say the ongoing conflict makes it difficult for aid agencies to conduct field surveys that help establish the severity of the famine hitting the most vulnerable regions.
An air blockade imposed by a coalition led by neighboring Saudi Arabia, which supports the Yemeni government in the north, makes it difficult even to easily deliver aid supplies.
Torbay said the Covid-19 pandemic has killed at least 150 doctors in Yemen, but exact figures are difficult to come by due to lack of data.
“It is a country with around ten caregivers for every 10,000 people. It is not 10 doctors but 10 health workers (including nurses). Imagine the impact of doctors’ deaths on untreated patients.
Starvation or no starvation, tens of thousands of people already need medical and food assistance in Yemen where a woman and six newborns die every two hours due to pregnancy-related complications.
“We are talking about 20 million people who do not have access to basic health services, or two-thirds of the population,” Torbay said.
“Just imagine that over a million pregnant women are malnourished, about 2.8 million children are malnourished, of which 400,000 are severely malnourished.”
It has become almost routine to see pictures of starving children with visible bones coming from Yemen. Instead of facing the crisis, the world powers are procrastinating.
At a donor conference seeking to raise $ 3.85 billion in March, various countries pledged just $ 1.7 billion. With a pledge to provide $ 430 million, Saudi Arabia is the largest donor. But like the United Arab Emirates, which has supported another part of the conflict in Yemen, and the United States, Riyadh has cut back on donations.
Lack of funds can overwhelm fragile healthcare facilities unable to keep up with the flow of patients.
“I remember meeting women who could have eight pregnancies but only four live births due to the lack of medical facilities,” said Alison Criado-Perez, an MSF (Doctors Without Borders) nurse who worked in Marib, a city center. region close to the capital. Sanaa.
“They may have had stillbirths, babies may have died during childbirth, or they may have miscarried early due to lack of prenatal care,” she said. TRT World.
The bloody war in which tens of thousands of people lost their lives led to an exodus of health workers and made the field work of foreign doctors risky.
The clinics and hospitals run by MSF and other organizations are operating at full capacity, which means that many more people who need immediate care are not getting any help.
“Sometimes we would see a hundred patients in a day,” said Alison, who, along with two other MSF staff, opened a small clinic in Marib in October 2019.
“No one gets complications like preeclampsia, which you can detect with various tests,” she said, referring to a potentially fatal blood pressure problem that plagues pregnant women.
Besides the war wounded, many people living in makeshift refugee tents suffer from respiratory infections and various skin diseases due to poor sanitation, she said.
Many of these illnesses can be treated with available medications and medical interventions. But a raging conflict means supplies must pass through a complex web of checkpoints and bureaucratic hurdles before they can reach hospitals.
All parties to the conflict in Yemen, including the Iran-backed Houthis, the Yemini government and the UAE-backed Southern Transition Council, face allegations of attacks on civilian areas.
A Saudi ceasefire proposal earlier this year was rejected by the Houthis.
Torbay of Project Hope said it was imperative to bring all the warring parties together to negotiate an end to the conflict.
“The solution for Yemen is not just humanitarian. It must be a political solution. And the humanitarian aid that will arrive in Yemen will help people recover from the impact of the civil war. ”