Prolonged Conflict and COVID-19 Pandemic: A Serious Humanitarian Catastrophic for Yemen
Yemen Conflict in Brief: The Yemeni Civil War is an ongoing conflict that began in 2015 between two factions: the Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi-led Yemeni government and the Houthi armed movement, along with their supporters and allies. Both claim to constitute the official government of Yemen.  Since March 2015, the conflict became more violent, resulting in continued unbearable suffering for the local population today. The Yemen conflict has become complex with the involvement of regional actors like Saudi Arabia, UAE, Iran, and a few western powers. Further involvement of Al-Qaeda, Ansar al-Sharia, and ISIL has deepened the conflict. The five-year war devastated almost every sector of the country (Orkaby, Asher. 25 March 2015. “Houthi Who?”. Foreign Affairs). The most affected sectors are the food management and healthcare sector.

The Cost of Yemen Conflict:
The war caused more than 11,200 deaths, about 50,000 wounded and 3,154,572 people were displaced. According to Save the Children, about 85,000 children died out of starvation and malnutrition. About 3000 people died in cholera. The health care system is completely broken. The country is on the brink of a serious humanitarian disaster. Civilians bear the brunt of the crisis, with 22.2 million Yemenis now in need of humanitarian assistance. The most affected groups are the children and the elderly people, who are suffering the most. 11 million children across Yemen still need humanitarian assistance to survive, including nearly 400,000 who suffer from the most severe form of acute malnutrition and are at imminent risk of death.

COVID-19 Situation in Yemen
Though the first confirmed case was reported in Yemen on April 13, the country bears the highest pandemic risk in the region because of its dilapidated healthcare system. Since 2015, parties to the conflict have targeted not only medical facilities but also medical personnel, as health workers have been threatened, injured, abducted, detained, and killed. Consequently, many medical professionals have fled Yemen, further damaging the ability of the healthcare system to respond to a pandemic. Experts believe that the COVID-19 outbreak in Yemen will be catastrophic, unstoppable, and deadly. The death toll of Yemenis is likely to be outnumbered by recent projections of a COVID-19 outbreak.

Humanitarian Operations in Yemen:
Despite the ongoing fight, the United Nations along with few other international organizations, like ICRC, International Rescue Committee, INTERSOS, Medicine Sans Frontiers, Norwegian Refugee Council, Oxfam, UNICEF, UNDP, World Food Program and a few other INGOs are operating the humanitarian mission in Yemen. Learn more about these projects here.

How can we help The Yemenis:
It is very important to create global awareness about the possible danger the pandemic poses in Yemen. Rotarians can help the Yemeni people through donations and partnerships to the NGOs working for the healthcare sector in Yemen.