Yemen Update

Millions suffer as conflict continues

The week of March 28 marked one year since the escalation of the conflict in Yemen, where the violence has had a devastating impact on millions of innocent civilians, causing immeasurable suffering. Since March 2015, more than 6,200 people have been killed and 30,000 injured. More than 21 million people – 82% of the total population – are in need of humanitarian aid, including almost 2.5 million people who have been internally displaced. More than one third of people in need live in inaccessible or hard-to-reach areas.

Even before the current conflict, the health system in Yemen had been facing some challenges, and ongoing violence has led to further deterioration of the health situation. Almost 19 million people lack access to clean water and sanitation, placing them at risk of infectious diseases such as dengue fever, malaria and cholera. More than 14 million Yemenis are in need of urgent health services, including more than 2 million acutely malnourished children and pregnant or lactating women requiring treatment. Yet despite these critical needs, 25% of all health facilities have shut down due to damages or shortages in staff, medicines and other resources.

“Health needs in Yemen are vast, but operating in a conflict context is never an easy task. Over the past year, WHO has had to find solutions to reach people in need. We sent life-saving medicines and supplies via boat when roads were blocked, and we transported safe water to health facilities by animals due to lack of fuel. Since March 2015, WHO has reached millions of people with 450 tonnes of lifesaving medicines and supplies; delivered integrated primary health care services, including mental health services, through mobile medical teams and mobile clinics; and provided more than 150,000 vials of insulin,” said Dr Ala Alwan, WHO’s Regional Director for the Eastern Mediterranean. “Five million children under the age of five were vaccinated against polio and 2.4 million children under the age of 15 were vaccinated against measles and rubella by WHO and partners.”

WHO also provided one million litres of fuel to hospitals and 20 million litres of safe water to health facilities and camps hosting internally displaced persons.

“Despite our efforts so far, much more needs to be done to respond to the health needs of people in Yemen. I am extremely concerned about the limited funding for the health sector, which has so far only received 6% of its requirements for 2016. As we enter the second year of this conflict, I also remind all parties of their obligations under international humanitarian law to facilitate humanitarian access to all areas of Yemen, and respect the safety of health workers and health facilities already working under extremely challenging conditions,” said Dr Alwan.

Hospital attack condemned
On 6 April WHO issued another strong statement condemning another attack on a healthcare facility in Yemen.

“WHO strongly condemns the attack on Ma’arib General Hospital in Ma’arib governorate, Yemen on 3 April, in which 4 people died, including one medical doctor, and 13 people were injured. The attack also caused damage to the intensive care unit and administration buildings of the hospital.

“Despite facing critical shortages in health staff and medicines, Ma’arib Hospital provides urgently-needed health services for thousands of people in Ma’arib and other governorates, including Al-Jawf, Al-Baidha’a, Aden and Lahj. At the time of the attack, 190 out of 200 beds in the hospital were occupied.

“Since the escalation of the conflict in Yemen, health workers risk their lives every day to provide essential and life-saving assistance to people requiring health services. Once again, WHO calls on all parties to the conflict to respect the safety and neutrality of health workers and health facilities, emphasizing that these attacks are a direct violation of international humanitarian law.”

Tracking system
Data on attacks against health workers has been piecemeal and there has been no standard way of reporting them. To address this, WHO has developed a new system for collecting data that is being tested in Central African Republic, Syrian Arab Republic and West Bank and Gaza Strip. It is due to be available this year. As well as collecting data, the project plans to use the information to identify patterns and find ways to avoid attacks or mitigate their consequences.

Date of upload: 15th May 2016


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