GENEVA (Dispatches) – The new coronavirus is believed to be spreading throughout Yemen where the health care system ‘has in effect collapsed’, the United Nations said on Friday, appealing for urgent funding.
"Aid agencies in Yemen are operating on the basis that community transmission is taking place across the country,” Jens Laerke, spokesman for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), told a Geneva briefing.
"We hear from many of them that Yemen is really on the brink right now. The situation is extremely alarming, they are talking about that the health system has in effect collapsed,” he said.
Aid workers report having to turn people away because they do not have enough medical oxygen or sufficient supplies of personal protective equipment, Laerke said.
A flight carrying international aid workers landed in Aden on Thursday as air space opened up for rotations, but Yemeni nationals have been doing most of the on-site work, he said.
The main coronavirus treatment centre in southern Yemen has recorded at least 68 deaths in just over two weeks, Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders), the medical charity running the site, said on Thursday.
Since March 2015, Yemen has been heavily invaded by a military coalition led by Saudi Arabia, trying to restore power to ex-Yemeni president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi.
The Saudi coalition also aims to crush the popular Houthi Ansarullah movement, whose fighters have helped the Yemeni army defend the country against the invaders.
Ceaseless Saudi airstrikes and the destruction wrought by the kingdom’s mercenaries and armed militia loyal to Hadi have wiped out much of Yemen’s infrastructure, destroying hospitals, schools, and factories.
The COVID-19 disease has further deteriorated the humanitarian situation in the impoverished country, where 80 percent of the population are reliant on international aid for survival.