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Red Cross issues Yemen warning

Tehran Times – The International Committee of the Red Cross has issued a warning over the devastating impacts the lack of humanitarian funding is having on the war-ravaged Arab country in particular women and girls. 

There is concern among many rights activists that the Ukraine conflict may be undermining efforts to save millions of people who have endured violence in Yemen and a 20-year U.S. occupation in Afghanistan that ended last summer but triggered another humanitarian crisis in West Asia.

The Red Cross expressed deep concern that after eight years of armed conflict in Yemen, violence along with economic hardship and worsening health services and health infrastructure are increasingly keeping women and girls from being able to access the essential healthcare they need. 

It says as the funding shortages are forcing aid groups to scale down humanitarian help, the plight of Yemen’s women and girls will only grow worse. According to UNICEF, in Yemen today, less than 50 percent of births are being attended to by skilled medical personnel. 

That has resulted in one mother and six newborn babies reportedly dying in Yemen every two hours because of complications during pregnancy and because of causes that are reportedly just about entirely preventable. And this is almost solely due to limited or no access to health services.

Among the estimated 4.2 million people displaced in Yemen since the beginning of the war on the country in March 2015, 73 percent are women and children. According to the Red Cross, displaced women and girls are also suffering more from “economic and social vulnerability resulting in limited access to basic services, including adequate healthcare to treat chronic disease,”

“The pain is unbearable!” Moghniya, a single mother suffering from terminal stage cancer, who lives in the Swaida camp for the internally displaced in Marib, central Yemen, told the Red Cross. 

“I was assigned to a cancer center in Mukalla, hundreds of kilometers away. I couldn’t afford transportation between treatment sessions and bear the long travel required. Now, I’m just sitting in my tent, waiting for death to release me from my agony.” she said. 

Basheer Omar, a Red Cross official, speaking to RT says the humanitarian situation in Yemen is one of “unimaginable horror,” with two-thirds of the population deprived of basic healthcare. Omar called on the international community not to leave the Yemeni people “alone facing their fate.”

The international humanitarian organization has highlighted that more than 20.1 million people out of a total population of 30.5 million currently lack access to basic health care. Only 51 percent of health facilities still function across the country. This is while the violence “further complicates the ability of patients to reach lifesaving healthcare.”

“Women who lost husbands over years of conflict became hesitant to travel to seek health support, especially if they live in rural areas, as they fear getting attacked or harassed on their way,” said Nabiha Ahmad, supervisor of the main public dialysis center in Aden, which is being supported by the International Committee of the Red Cross. “During the past years, many of our female patients suffering from kidney failure, particularly those living in remote areas, died in their homes because they couldn’t reach the center in time for their live-saving periodic treatment.’’ 

Saida, a 45-year-old teacher who suffers from kidney failure spoke of similar issues. She needs a minimum of two weekly sessions of dialysis.  

“On many occasions during the peak of violence, I had the choice of either staying home and die from illness or risk getting caught in the crossfire while trying to reach the nearest dialysis center,’’ she said. ‘’Even during calm periods, it remains complicated, particularly for us women,” Saida explained.

Despite a two-month truce brokered in May and extended by a further two months to end in August. Yemeni officials accuse the Saudi-led coalition of violating the ceasefire agreement.

According to Yemeni media, Saudi Arabian fire has killed and wounded 17 people in Saada Governorate, in a new violation of the humanitarian and military truce. 

Saba news agency has cited a Yemeni security source as saying the casualties were caused by Saudi border guards’ fire, and that they were transferred to Razih Hospital; the source stressed that most of the injured are in serious condition. Yemen’s Health Ministry has condemned the Saudi attack.”

The war on Yemen has led to what the UN describes as the “world’s worst humanitarian crisis,” and according to data compiled by the UN last year, resulted in the deaths of nearly 400,000 Yemeni people, more than two-thirds under the age of five.

However, campaigners and researcher groups believe the actual death toll is much higher, as the UN admitted it stopped counting at one stage because of the risks involved. Experts say the world body can only provide an estimate.  

Also of concern to humanitarian organizations is tons of dangerous untreated medical waste, which is just outside Yemen’s capital city of Sana’a and poses a threat to the environment and water supplies.

The al-Azraqain landfill receives 2,000 tons of waste a day, including dangerous untreated medical waste generated by hospitals in Sanaa. 

As the waste builds up, it leaks toxic chemicals down into the ground.
“We have no solution but to bury the medical waste with the garbage. It is mixed with garbage and buried,” says Bahauddin al-Haj, data manager at the al-Azraqai landfill site.

Before the war, despite being a poor nation, Sanaa was at least able to separate the most dangerous materials from general. The state of the country’s services following eight years of Saudi-led and U.S.-backed bombardment has left many services in tatters.

Experts say if the groundwater near the Yemeni site is believed to be concealed yet contaminated, it can cause a variety of diseases and illnesses including cancers, birth defects, immunological disorders, and many other diseases.

So even if the war on Yemen is over, its effects could last for decades unless urgent international action is taken to save lives. 

Meanwhile, the Yemeni government’s General Authority for Awqaf (Endowments) has condemned the destruction carried out to parts of the historic al-Noor Mosque in the al-Qataba area. The attack is being labeled as a terror operation by an al-Qaeda Takfiri cell

The mosque dates back 700 years and comes after a similar attack in May against another Mosque in the same area, this time attributed to joint Saudi and Emirati-led coalition forces.

Sharing an image on social media of the damaged mosque, a government official said “the Takfiris, the tools of aggression, are destroying a 700-year-old historical mosque in the Al-Khokha district of Al-Hudaydah Governorate, out of hatred for the Yemeni heritage.”

After both incidents, the Awqaf authority called on international organizations and the UN to work to preserve and protect Yemen’s historical sites.

On one hand, Yemeni forces are battling to keep their country safe, secure, and independent from the Saudi-led coalition; on the other hand, Yemeni forces are battling another front against al-Qaeda Takfiri terrorists. 

The war, which began in early 2015, saw the Saudi-led coalition carrying on almost daily airstrikes in a bid to reinstate a former government loyal to Riyadh but overstayed its tenure in Yemen. A popular revolution ensued with the National Salvation Government taking over and Yemen’s armed forces defending their country’s territorial integrity.

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