International aid shrinking for Yemen, sinking into health crisis

Radwan cemetery in Aden, Yemen, where the number of new graves continues to climb on May 21.
Radwan cemetery in Aden, Yemen, where the number of new graves continues to climb on May 21. AP

The horizon is getting darker again in Yemen. The country continues to sink into political and security chaos, the multiple humanitarian crises affecting its population are aggravated by the installation of the Covid-19 epidemic within it, and international aid intended for Yemenis etiole.

On Wednesday June 3, the United Nations (UN) announced that it should reduce, or even close, several of its programs to support the fight against the virus by the end of the month, unless '' obtain additional funding from states. The alarmist statement came in the aftermath of a virtual conference of donors, which proved particularly disappointing for aid workers active on the Yemeni issue. Only $ 1.35 billion was pledged on Tuesday by participating organizations and states, up from $ 2.6 billion in 2019. The United Nations is now short of more than $ 1 billion to end the year.

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The number of people in need of humanitarian assistance is estimated at 24.1 million for a population of less than 31 million. The continuation of the fighting, displacement of population coupled with the Covid-19 pandemic does not bode well from this point of view for any improvement.

A spokesperson for the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs says the reduction in pledges will "Severely hamper efforts to contain the already rapidly expanding epidemic" in Yemen. In the absence of reliable figures, linked to the state of deterioration of the institutions and the fragmentation of the authorities in place after five years of civil war and Saudi military intervention against the Houthi rebels, the World Health Organization is now operating in the country assuming that the epidemic has already reached its peak there.

Cemeteries fill up

Empirical signs of excess mortality have also started to abound from north to south in recent weeks. Cemeteries fill with corpses in Aden and Sanaa, while on social networks, Yemenis see death notices flourish and word of mouth spreads rumors of hecatombs, impossible for the humanitarian actors present to verify on the spot.

"People are dying from the Covid-19, more and more, at home, in their provinces far from the rare health infrastructures which are still functioning and which would not want them anyway", explains a Yemeni humanitarian worker reached by telephone in Aden, the large port city in the south of the country, which has become one of the centers of the virus and where Doctors Without Borders has set up, as in Sanaa, a care center for patients suffering from Covid-19.

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