25 March 2020 – The undersigned organisations (BFHR – GIDHR – SALAM) are concerned regarding the health security in Yemen. Novel Corona Virus pandemic is spreading hastily around the globe while Saudi-led coalition’s war on Yemen demolished 95% of Yemen’s health care system capacities. The signatories call on the international community and the United Nations to pressure Saudi Arabia and UAE to end their siege on the Yemeni borders, halt their military operations against Yemen immediately, and reconstruct the hospitals and health care facilities which were destroyed by their airstrikes.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) documented more than 381,000 cases of the Novel Corona Virus (Covid19), in 195 countries and territories around the world, with more than 16,500 deaths. The pandemic stretched health sectors in many countries to their limits trying to contain the virus and slow down its spread. However, the health sector in Yemen has been far beyond its limits since 5 years when the Saudi and UAE led coalition launched its military operations against Yemen in March 2015.
The Gulf Institute for Democracy and Human Rights (GIDHR) documented, in the 19th issue of its newsletter, the Yemeni Ministry of Public Health and Population revealed that 92 % to 95% of the devices in hospitals and health centres were disrupted by the end of 2018. According to a report issued by UNICEF in June 2019 “only 51% of all health facilities are fully operational”.
The Saudi and Emirati led coalition has been targeting the hospitals and health care facilities in Yemen, directly and intentionally. More than 70 health care centres were destroyed since March 2015. Airstrikes targeted Al-Thawra Hospital, were conducted by the coalition in August 2018, killed at least 60 people and injured more than 100.
Commenting, Yahya Alhadid, the Chairman of the Gulf Institute for Democracy and Human Rights (GIDHR), said “we have seen the recurrence of some epidemics in Yemen due to the destruction of the Yemeni healthcare system, and infrastructure including the networks of the clean water and the sewage systems. The siege left Yemen short on essential medical supplies, vaccines and medicines; yet with not enough medical stuff as it was heavily dependent on foreign medical workers, many of whom have left Yemen after the war.”
“In addition, the damage that occurred have strained the abilities of the Yemeni healthcare system, and left it struggling to meet the everyday needs and the preventable diseases (such as the cholera). We are seriously concerned regarding the ability of Yemen to face the Covid19 pandemic, if the people have no access to clean water or the essential hygiene products in some areas!” Alhadid continued.
From his side, Baqer Darwich, the Chairman of Bahrain Forum for Human Rights (BFHR), said: “the Saudi-Emirati-led coalition targets the hospitals and health care centres in Yemen directly and intentionally, and damaged more than 70 health care facilities since March 2015. The hospitals are an obvious target for the coalition’s airstrikes, as when several airstrikes targeted Al-Thawra Hospital and killed and injured more than 160 Yemenis.”
“The violations of the international Humanitarian Law and tearing apart the bodies of the Yemeni victims, including children, were the façade of the Saudi Crown Prince’s alleged reforms,” Darwich added.
In the same context, Sayed Yousif AlMuhafdah, Vice President of SALAM for Democracy and Human Rights, said: “The pandemic of Corona Virus allowed the people to feel the suffering of those who are under siege. The siege on Yemen is the most obvious example for such suffering which should end. Killing civilians, bombing hospitals, starving millions of children are war crimes which should be halted, Humanity and noble human values have to prevail over this absurd and unjust war.”