Lamia Rashid & Najaha Nauf
June 1, 2020 – People of Yemen have to deal with coronavirus cases (COVID-19) and face a big pandemic that is on the rise.
Yemen encountered its first case of the virus on April 10, after which hundreds more have been affected across the war-torn country.
The country is already facing the ramifications of a bitter five year war. Some sources say there are currently 343 confirmed cases but to know the reality of cases and deaths is near to impossible.
Sky News spoke with the head of the United Nations Refugee Agency for Yemen Jean- Nicolas Beuze, who fears that “coronavirus (COVID-19) may be the straw which will break the camel’s back in Yemen.”
Yemen was already dealing with a range of severe illnesses including dengue, malaria and one of the worst cholera epidemics in history. It’s therefore unclear as to whether the recent deaths have been due to COVID-19, or as a result of prior illnesses already present in the country. Because authorities in the country have banned reporting on the virus, it’s likely that figures are much higher. Either way, it seems that if nothing is done to help the struggling nation, it could deteriorate to its lowest point.
But what makes Yemen worse off than other countries battling the virus? One of the biggest factors stopping people from recovering is the more or less nonexistent healthcare system. The UN has announced that Yemen’s healthcare system has “essentially collapsed.”
A large amount of doctors and nurses have fled the country, leaving the people with little to no help. The lack of beds, medical equipment and oxygen has forced hospitals and ICUs to turn people away, even the most vulnerable. The BBC said the country is surviving on only “200 ventilators for a population of nearly 30 million.”
The people of Yemen are already known to have low immunity, since they’re used to an environment of illness and infection. The absence of proper medical attention to victims of the virus means the risk of further illness and death rates are much higher.
While the rest of the world takes stringent measures to stop the spread of the virus like social distancing and extra sanitation, Yemen is not able to do the same. It’s hard to find clean water when infection is rife, and the water that is available must be used for essential needs. To add to that, social distancing is out of the question. Large families live in small makeshift tents and big groups are restricted to one bathroom.
Although coverage on the war in Yemen is not a regular occurrence, it has been dealing with an array of obstacles for half a decade, from constant fighting to starvation.
To put it briefly, the Houthi rebels, a Shia group based in Yemen, have been at war with the Saudi-led coalition which is backed by the Yemeni government. The ongoing dispute between the two parties has negatively affected the citizens of Yemen more than anyone.
It has led the Hudaydah port – one of their main sources of food and supplies – being blocked off by the Saudi-led coalition. The blockade of such an important port has resulted in shortage of supplies and food which the people are in desperate need of. Even before the war, 90% of Yemen’s food was imported. The UN estimates that this hostile conflict has killed more than 100,000 as a result of starvation, disease or missiles and airstrikes.
With America recently announcing it has cut off around $70 million in aid, the future looks bleak for the people of Yemen. While we can appreciate that the entire world is enduring this virus collectively, most governments have a structured plan and thriving health care system to ensure their citizens are cared for in comparison to Yemen. It’s described by many as the worst humanitarian crisis in modern history. If swift action is not taken soon, COVID-19 could be the thing to completely destroy the country.