FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

In Yemen, A Humanitarian Pause is Urgently Needed

As war continues to rage uninterrupted in Yemen, a humanitarian pause is badly needed as the country spirals down to chaos, leaving the majority of the population in urgent need of medical care. Restrictions on access to medical supplies and care are key impediments in improving the situation of people in need. A five day humanitarian pause would allow supplies and care to reach those people and relieve their dire health situation.

At the same time, attacks on health facilities continue. Last October, the World Health Organization (WHO) condemned the bombing of a Medécins Sans Frontières’ (MSF) supported hospital in Saada province in northern Yemen. MSF believes that as a consequence 200.000 people were left without medical care. That attack, that violated International Humanitarian Law, was the second one on an MSF-run facility in a month.

Since the beginning of Saudi Arabia’s attacks on Yemen, conducted with U.S. support, more than 5,700 have died (almost half of them civilians) -including hundreds of women and children- and 28.753 injuries have been reported. Several health workers have also been killed and 47 health facilities in 11 governorates have been damaged or closed as a result of the continuous violence.

Health care services in all public hospitals have been reduced, especially operating theaters and intensive care units. At the same time, disrupted immunization activities have increased the risks for measles and poliomyelitis, even though Yemen is presently free of polio.

The breakdown of the water supply and sanitation systems has facilitated the spread of diseases such as malaria and dengue fever, as well acute diarrheal diseases, particularly affecting children. Also, because of limited communication possibilities, the early warning alert system for diseases has been seriously affected.

The country has one of the highest rates of chronic malnutrition in the world. According to UNICEF, 1.3 million Yemeni children younger than five years now suffer from acute malnutrition, compared to 850.000 before the war started. 320.000 are severely malnourished, twice the amount before the crisis. The little cash people have is to pay for food and gas –at greatly increased prices- leaving no money to afford health care.

The Lancet reports that approximately a quarter of the country’s health care facilities are no longer functional. To make matters worse, as Ronald Kremer, from MSF says, “People do not dare to go to hospitals because they are afraid that they are targeted and, even if they want to go they may not have the means –even where public transport does exist, it is very expensive because of the fuel problems”.

Fuel problems have increased the problems in obtaining clean water. Lack of a proper water supply and the dire sanitation and hygiene situation has led to outbreaks of dengue and malaria. Because many Yemenis store water in open containers, that becomes an ideal breeding ground for disease-transmitting mosquitoes.

So far, there are more than 2.5 million people who have become internally displaced persons (IDPs). To compound an already difficult situation, disrupted immunization campaigns have led to increasing number of children affected with measles and rubella, particularly among IDPs living in overcrowded conditions

As a result of the conflict, many hospitals, laboratories, health warehouses and administrative offices have closed. Primary care facilities have minimum access to medicines, supplies and equipment. Fuel shortage ahs affected the proper operations of ambulances.

In this situation, a humanitarian pause is urgently needed. A five day pause, as proposed by the World Health Organization, would allow humanitarian organizations to respond to some of the most life-threatening needs of the people, particularly women and children caught in the middle of the conflict. An MSF doctor taking care of a badly hurt child in Syria realized that the child was desperately trying to tell him something. When he asked his translator what the child was saying, the translator responded, “Don’t they realize that we are children?” A similar question could be asked in Yemen today.

More articles by:

Dr. Cesar Chelala is a co-winner of the 1979 Overseas Press Club of America award for the article “Missing or Disappeared in Argentina: The Desperate Search for Thousands of Abducted Victims.”

December 10, 2018
Jacques R. Pauwels
Foreign Interventions in Revolutionary Russia
Richard Klin
The Disasters of War
Katie Fite
Rebranding Bundy
Gary Olson
A Few Thoughts on Politics and Personal Identity
Patrick Cockburn
Brexit Britain’s Crisis of Self-Confidence Will Only End in Tears and Rising Nationalism
Andrew Moss
Undocumented Citizen
Dean Baker
Trump and China: Going With Patent Holders Against Workers
Lawrence Wittner
Reviving the Nuclear Disarmament Movement: a Practical Proposal
Dan Siegel
Thoughts on the 2018 Elections and Beyond
Thomas Knapp
Election 2020: I Can Smell the Dumpster Fires Already
Weekend Edition
December 07, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Steve Hendricks
What If We Just Buy Off Big Fossil Fuel? A Novel Plan to Mitigate the Climate Calamity
Jeffrey St. Clair
Cancer as Weapon: Poppy Bush’s Radioactive War on Iraq
Paul Street
The McCain and Bush Death Tours: Establishment Rituals in How to be a Proper Ruler
Jason Hirthler
Laws of the Jungle: The Free Market and the Continuity of Change
Ajamu Baraka
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights at 70: Time to De-Colonize Human Rights!
Andrew Levine
Thoughts on Strategy for a Left Opposition
Jennifer Matsui
Dead of Night Redux: A Zombie Rises, A Spook Falls
Rob Urie
Degrowth: Toward a Green Revolution
Binoy Kampmark
The Bomb that Did Not Detonate: Julian Assange, Manafort and The Guardian
Robert Hunziker
The Deathly Insect Dilemma
Robert Fisk
Spare Me the American Tears for the Murder of Jamal Khashoggi
Joseph Natoli
Tribal Justice
Ron Jacobs
Getting Pushed Off the Capitalist Cliff
Macdonald Stainsby
Unist’ot’en Camp is Under Threat in Northern Canada
Senator Tom Harkin
Questions for Vice-President Bush on Posada Carriles
W. T. Whitney
Two Years and Colombia’s Peace Agreement is in Shreds
Ron Jacobs
Getting Pushed Off the Capitalist Cliff
Ramzy Baroud
The Conspiracy Against Refugees
David Rosen
The Swamp Stinks: Trump & Washington’s Rot
Raouf Halaby
Wall-to-Wall Whitewashing
Daniel Falcone
Noam Chomsky Turns 90
Dean Baker
An Inverted Bond Yield Curve: Is a Recession Coming?
Nick Pemberton
The Case For Chuck Mertz (Not Noam Chomsky) as America’s Leading Intellectual
Ralph Nader
New Book about Ethics and Whistleblowing for Engineers Affects Us All!
Dan Kovalik
The Return of the Nicaraguan Contras, and the Rise of the Pro-Contra Left
Jeremy Kuzmarov
Exposing the Crimes of the CIAs Fair-Haired Boy, Paul Kagame, and the Rwandan Patriotic Front
Jasmine Aguilera
Lessons From South of the Border
Manuel García, Jr.
A Formula for U.S. Election Outcomes
Sam Pizzigati
Drug Company Execs Make Millions Misleading Cancer Patients. Here’s One Way to Stop Them
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Agriculture as Wrong Turn
James McEnteer
And That’s The Way It Is: Essential Journalism Books of 2018
Chris Gilbert
Biplav’s Communist Party of Nepal on the Move: Dispatch by a Far-Flung Bolivarian
Judith Deutsch
Siloed Thinking, Climate, and Disposable People: COP 24 and Our Discontent
Jill Richardson
Republicans Don’t Want Your Vote to Count
John Feffer
‘Get Me Outta Here’: Trump Turns the G20 into the G19
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail