Statement on rising Covid-19 cases in Yemen

Published 12. May 2020
Statement by NRC’s Yemen Country Director Mohammed Abdi about rising Covid-19 cases in Yemen.

“The moment we feared is here. Covid-19 is not only in Yemen, but it is spreading. We are genuinely concerned that the impact of Covid-19 could be worse in Yemen than anywhere else, because this was already the worst humanitarian crisis in the world.

“We fear most for the 3.6 million Yemenis who have fled their homes, along with many migrants and refugees hosted by Yemen. These are people living in overcrowded settlements, or packed many families to a room in schools and other public buildings. They have limited access to even soap or clean water and cannot simply ‘self-isolate’. Although the virus does not discriminate, it is these most vulnerable people who will be hit hardest.

“Urgent action is needed. Aid organisations must be given safe and unimpeded access across the country to help scale-up measures against Covid-19, and continue vital assistance. While restrictions are necessary to fight the virus, they must not block access to lifesaving aid, upon which 80 per cent of the population is dependent. Despite a ceasefire, fighting on the ground continues and thousands of civilians are still fleeing each week. All parties must lay down their arms, immediately. Yemen cannot fight both Covid-19 and a war.”

Note to editors:
  • The Ministry of Health in Sana’a today confirmed the first death from Covid-19 in the city. This follows 21 cases and three deaths from the deadly virus in the last week in the southern governates of Aden, Hadramout and Taiz.
  • Based on models by Britain’s Imperial College, the World Health Organization has said a likely outbreak scenario with containment steps could still see more than 55% of the population infected.
  • According to the World Health Organization, there are 4 testing laboratories for Covid-19 operational in Yemen, along with 38 Covid-19 isolation units, 520 ICU beds, and 194 ICU ventilators.
  • After five years of war, only half of Yemen’s health facilities are fully operational, the economy has been crippled, diseases such as cholera and dengue fever are already rife, and 10 million people are living one step away from famine.  
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