The Houthi rebels on Saturday asked international aid agencies to support hospitals and take action in the face of the arrival of the coronavirus in Yemen, a country that has been in war for more than five years.RELATED
“We appeal to the UN and Red Cross agencies to assume their responsibilities in relation to the equipment of hospitals and quarantine centers because today we are facing a medical disaster,” the Houthi Government Minister of Health said at a press conference. Tahaal Mutawakil.
“The entire world is fully prepared and these organizations have so far only made promises to us,” he added, holding the World Health Organization (WHO) responsible for the “complete equipment” of hospitals.
The representative of the Government of the Houthis – who rose up against the internationally recognized government of Abdo Rabu Mansur Hadi and took Sanaa in 2014 – stated that, at the moment, there have been no cases of the disease in the part of the country that they control (fundamentally the northwest of the country); in the rest of Yemen there are 16 diagnosed infections.
He added that 18 hospitals in 11 provinces have been conditioned to handle COVID-19 cases, but there is an acute lack of personal protective equipment, clothing and other types.
The Houthis announced last week the suspension of humanitarian flights from Sana’a airport, the only one operating in the territory it controls and which Saudi Arabia – which dominates Yemen’s airspace and supports Hadi – only allows access by United Nations.
In addition, the rebels have closed roads to prevent displacement to Hadi government-controlled provinces, have suspended classes and banned concentrations of people at weddings and funerals.
The country lacks a health network capable of coping with a possible spread of the virus. Only about half of the nearly 30 million Yemenis have access to the health system and less than 45% can reach functioning hospitals.