Yemen : first check to the COVID-19 and concern of the humanitarian workers

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Yémen : premier cas à la COVID-19 et inquiétude des travailleurs humanitaires

Police officers patrol the streets after the country has imposed a curfew boot in order to limit the spread of the COVID-19.

Photo : Reuters / Stringer .

Yemen, a country in the throes of a severe humanitarian crisis because of the war, announced on Friday a first case of contamination with the novel coronavirus, raising fears of NGOS catastrophic impact in the case of the spread of the epidemic.

A cease-fire declared unilaterally from Thursday by the military coalition led by saudi Arabia, the ally of the power in Yemen, did not seem to hold, air strikes had aimed at targets of rebel Houthis a few hours after stis entry into force, according to sources of the belligerents.

By declaring this truce prior to the announcement of the first case in Yemen, Riyadh has expressed the hope that it would combat the disease in this impoverished country, threatened also by the starvation, hit by outbreaks of dengue and cholera, and suffers from a health system in disarray.

In a press release Friday evening in New York, the members of the security Council of the un have welcomed the announcement of saudi Arabia in favor of a cease-fire was unilateral and the positive response of the government of Yemen. They called on the Houthis to decide the same commitments without delay, they say.

The conflict started in 2014 between government and rebels supported by Iran, has left tens of thousands dead, mostly civilians, according to the NGOS, and led to the worst humanitarian crisis in the world, with 24 million Yemenis dependent on aid, according to the un.

The first confirmed case of novel coronavirus has been identified in the province of Hadramout [in the south] of the country, said on Twitter the government commission on the pandemic.

The infected person in the locality of Chahr receives medical treatment and his condition is stable, said the committee, headed by the government of president Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi, recognized by the international community. On Friday, a curfew boot of 24 hours has been imposed in Chahr and its surroundings.

All the people who have been in contact with the patient are sought to be isolated, said the world Health Organization (WHO) on Twitter.

We do everything that we can to prevent the spread of the virus and to help the authorities to be ready to treat patients, said Altaf Musani, WHO representative for Yemen.

This is the moment we feared all of them, because Yemen is under-equipped in the face of the virus, with only half of the health facilities still operational, has lamented his side Xavier Joubert, director of the NGO Save the Children in Yemen.

It counts 700 beds available in the intensive care unit and 500 fans for a population of some 30 million people.

We are expecting a humanitarian disaster, with millions of people infected.

Yann Josses, coordinator of Doctors of the World in Yemen

What worries us, too, it is (…) that there is not a lot of testing [500 currently available], and from centres to make them, said Mr Josses in an interview with the AFP.

On the military front, only a few hours after the entry into force of the cease-fire, many strikes have targeted vehicles belonging to the Houthis in the provinces of Jawf and Hajjah, near the capital Sana’a, according to a military source close to the government.

Clashes also broke out between the Houthis and the loyalist forces in the provinces of Jawf and Marib, she added.

The television channel Al-Massirah, under the control of the Houthis, has referred to the “six strikes of enemy aircraft (…) in the final hours” it is the province of Hajjah, and two on that of the Jawf.

The Houthis had rejected the truce on Thursday, one of their leaders seeing it as a “political manoeuvre and media” of the military coalition.

The announcement of The truce followed a year escalation of the conflict, despite the call by the un for their immediate termination to protect the civilians of the pandemic.

Friday, 59 NGOS, including Oxfam and Doctors without borders have praised with “bail” in a joint press release on the cease-fire, but it alone cannot stop the spread of the COVID-19 in Yemen, they stressed.

Yemen lives almost completely isolated, under the blockade by air imposed by the coalition led by Riyadh, which undermines sti food security situation.

The coordinator of A humanitarian Yemen, Lisa Grande, said that the assistance monthly provided by the world food Programme to more than 12 million people living in areas with 80 % under the control of the Houthis, could now be granted more rarely.

The donors decided to suspend their contributions, believing that the aid was blocked by the Houthis, she explained to the BBC.

After five years of war, Yemenis across the country have one of the lowest levels of immunity (…) in the world. What is the face of Yemen”s scary, ” said Ms. Great after the announcement of the first contamination.

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