Report By Nandika Chand | Kashmir Srinagar | Last Updated at May 23 2020
Aid workers are concerned that the malnourished population of war-ravaged Yemen is likely to have the world’s lowest levels of immunity to the fight the novel coronavirus.
Yemen is facing a tough situation as it battles to contain the deadly novel coronavirus amid a collapse in its healthcare system. The United Nations said COVID-19 pandemic is severely exacerbating the humanitarian crisis in Yemen.
Jens Laerke, spokesman for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said aid agencies are operating on the assumption that community transmission is taking place across the country. He said only half of health facilities are fully functioning. “Yemen’s health system needs significant assistance to counter the threat of COVID-19. Tests remain in short supply,” Laerke said.
He revealed that aid workers are turning people away because they do not have enough medical oxygen or sufficient supplies of personal protective equipment. “Aid workers are concerned that the malnourished population of war-ravaged Yemen is likely to have the world’s lowest levels of immunity to the fight the disease,” Laerke said.
The UN needs $2 billion to assist Yemen in maintaining aid programmes through the rest of the year. Laerke said it is very, very critical that the international community steps up to help the distressed nation. “If we do not get the money coming in, the programmes that are keeping people alive, are very much essential to fighting back against COVID-19, will have to close,” he said.
Part of the funding effort that includes a virtual pledging conference co-hosted by the UN and Saudi Arabia is scheduled to take place early next month. Yemen has been riddled with violence and chaos since 2014 when Houthi rebels overran much of the country. The crisis peaked in 2015 when a Saudi-led military coalition launched a devastating air campaign targeting the rebels.