Hospitals in Yemen Are Struggling to Treat Civil War Casualties
They’re vulnerable to airstrike attacks and are running out of supplies.
The conflict in Yemen is getting so bad, medical officials are pleading for help and saying they can’t effectively treat the war’s victims, according to a new report in the Guardian.
Houthi rebels in the city of Hodeidah have only become more violent since the US called for a ceasefire on Oct. 31, making it more difficult for hospitals to treat the malnourished and injured. Children are especially vulnerable.
“The violence is unbearable,” said Wafa Abdullah Saleh, a nurse at al-Olafi hospital in the Houthi-controlled city center. Saleh told the Guardian the hospital is a target for strikes coming from every direction-sea, air, and land.
There are also dozens of children “at imminent risk of death” in the Al Thawra hospital, according to UNICEF.
Fighters raided the city’s May 22 hospital on Tuesday, and set up snipers on the roof, setting patients and staff into a panic. The hospital is one of only two functioning hospitals left in the city. After the raid, it stopped operating normally.
“The hospital treats the hungry and people injured in airstrikes day in and day out, but there is a serious shortage of medicine,” she explained. “Even if we try our hardest we cannot treat patients because we lack the necessities for basic operations.”
Many residents are too poor to afford fuel or a safe way out of the city. Even those with the resources to flee have been stopped by roadblocks set up by Houthi rebels.
🚨 Very worrying update as battle for #Hodeidah looms in #Yemen:— AmnestyInternational (@amnesty) November 8, 2018
🏥 Huthis storm a hospital & place gunmen on roof.
💣 Saudi/Emirati coalition air strikes kill scores of civilians.
⚖️ Both sides risk war crimes by not protecting civilians. https://t.co/YJ16btK2RA
“This is a stomach-churning development that could have devastating consequences for the hospital’s medical workers and dozens of civilian patients, including many children being treated there,” Samah Hadid, Amnesty International’s Middle East director of campaigns said of the current situation in Hodeidah.
Chaos in the country has been ongoing since 2015 when the Houthi rebels began trying to overtake the country’s internationally recognized government. Saudi Arabia intervened and led a group of Arab states to start a military campaign aimed at putting Yemen’s government back in power. Ever since, deadly airstrikes have hit essential infrastructure like schools and hospitals, killing 10,000 people.
Hodeidah, a large city on the Red Sea coast was seized by Houthi rebels early on the conflict. More than 80% of the country’s food, aid, fuel, and commercial goods enter the country through the city’s port, according to the Guardian. If the port were to be attacked, it’d put three-quarters of the 28 million people dependent on aid in the area and tip the community into famine.
An estimated 14 million people already live on the brink of famine in Yemen, and 54,000 people have been killed at the hands of the conflict, according to the Guardian. The UN called Yemen’s civil war the “world’s worst humanitarian crisis.”
Yemeni children haven’t only been robbed of proper healthcare, the future of their education is also in jeopardy. According to UNICEF, 2,500 schools in Yemen have been damaged or destroyed after the Saudi-led Arab coalition stepped in.
International aid agencies condemned the latest violence in Hodeidah in a joint statement, calling it a “deeply disturbing development,” according to the Guardian. They demanded an end to the conflict and asked for cooperation with the UN-sponsored peace process.
A new round of peace talks is scheduled for early December in Sweden. It couldn’t come sooner.