Yemen's Coronavirus Catastrophe Is A Global Embarrassment

Akbar Shahid Ahmed

In Yemen, the coronavirus pandemic is overwhelming hospitals and cemeteries. More young people are dying there than in most other countries, and the virus is spreading so fast the World Health Organization believes it could infect nearly the entire Yemeni population.

Meanwhile, almost everyone who is in a position to prevent a catastrophe is instead making the situation worse.

The Houthis, the armed group under whom most Yemenis live, are refusing to acknowledge the extent of the outbreak and threatening people who do, fueling panic and conspiracy theories among the public while they seek to protect their own power. The Houthis’ opponents ― Yemen’s internationally recognized government, along with Saudi Arabia and the U.S. ― are failing to provide the level of needed aid or to halt bombings and a blockade of Houthi-controlled areas, causing inflation and mass hunger that makes many Yemenis especially vulnerable to COVID-19.

Both sides of the conflict are ignoring pleas for a ceasefire, and one fighting force, a coalition of southern Yemenis supported by the United Arab Emirates, has escalated an offensive against fellow anti-Houthi fighters since Yemen reported its first coronavirus case in April. None of the governing authorities across Yemen are seriously enforcing policies to limit the virus’ spread ― imposing a greater burden on a health care system that has already lost half its capacity to the war and now has 700 ICU beds and 157 working ventilators for a nation of 30 million, according to the United Nations.

The money they have spent to destroy the lives of people in Yemen ― if they spent one tenth, one hundredth of that to develop Yemen, Yemen will be an ally to them for the rest of their history.Aisha Jumaan, president, Yemen Relief and Reconstruction Foundation

The WHO predicts a coronavirus death toll of at least 65,000 in Yemen unless officials change course, its representative in the country told the medical journal The Lancet. Amid the...

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