Cash-strapped aid projects face closure in Yemen as COVID-19 spreads

14 Juin, 2020, 02:13 | Auteur: Anatole Charbonneau
  • Cash-strapped aid projects face closure in Yemen as COVID-19 spreads

There are fears that the Covid-19 outbreak there could be worse than thought.

The civil war erupted in Yemen in 2015, when a US-backed, Saudi-led coalition launched an offensive against Yemen's Houthi rebels who had overrun the capital of Sanaa and most of the country's north the previous year, forcing an internationally recognised government to flee to the south.

The World Health Organisation says there is likely a significant undercount of the total number of people affected by the coronavirus outbreak. The organization says hospitals aren't just suffering from a lack of medicine and equipment, but a shortage of doctors and nurses willing to treat the disease. The country has officially recorded more than 500 cases of Covid-19.

"Health workers have no protective gear, and most are receiving no salaries, resulting in health workers not reporting to duty", Mr Colville added.

It has reported 130 related deaths, though aid agencies have said testing levels are low so the real numbers are impossible to determine.

A pledging conference co-hosted by the United Nations and Saudi Arabia earlier this month managed to raise $1.35 billion for Yemen, about $1bn short of its target, but only 47 per cent of the funds have been received, the United Nations said.

Only half has been paid so far.

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"It's most evident in the intensive care unit in Sanaa, which has 15 beds and has been full most of the time for the last four weeks, and where the team have witnessed a high rate of deaths", said MSF, warning that the virus is clearly circulating widely across Yemen.

Donors should "pay rapidly", Laerke said.

"Unless UNICEF receives $30 million by the end of June, water, sanitation and hygiene services will start shutting down for 4 million people in July", Marixie Mercado of the U.N. Children's Fund (UNICEF) said.

"Of 8.4 million Yemenis whose access to WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene) will be affected because of insufficient funding, a total of 4 million people, almost half of them children, directly depend on UNICEF".

"Five years of fighting had caused Yemen's healthcare system to collapse in large parts".

The conflict has killed more than an estimated 100,000 people and displaced millions of others, pushing the impoverished country to the verge of starvation and gutting its infrastructure.

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