UN to Suspend three Quarters of Medical Aid in Yemen due to Lack of Funds, Global body says more than 30 of its 41 programs in the country could close in weeks without funding.
The United Nations will be forced to suspend three-quarters of the medical aid programs it supports in war-torn Yemen unless emergency funding is secured soon, the spokesman for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights warned.
Currently, 41 such programs are running in the Middle Eastern nation, where the healthcare system has all but collapsed, and more than 30 of those are slated to be shut down, Rupert Colville said.
The United Nations again has warned that three-quarters of the aid programs backed by its agencies in war-ravaged Yemen will have to shutter in weeks without more funding, even as both COVID-19 and cholera continue to spread in the country facing the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.
International donors pledged $1.35bn for Yemen at a conference on June 2 – but that was well below a $2.4bn fundraising target needed to prevent severe cutbacks in the UN’s aid operation.
“More than 30 of the 41 UN-supported programs in Yemen will close in the coming weeks if additional funds are not secured,” UN human rights spokesman Rupert Colville told a briefing in Geneva.
“Now, more than ever, the country needs the outside world’s help, and it’s not really getting it,” he said.
“Our office has received reports of hospitals turning away sick people, some of whom were struggling for breath and with a high fever. There are simply no beds, little equipment, few staff, and next to no medicine. Sanitation and clean water are also in short supply,” the UN official said, urging international donors to provide immediate relief.
Jens Laerke, a spokesman for the US Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), said only 47 percent of the promised $1.35bn had actually been received.
The challenging situation is compounded by the country’s extremely limited testing capacity. According to data compiled by the International Rescue Committee, Yemen has one of the world’s lowest testing rates, even compared with other conflict-hit countries, at just 31 tests per million citizens.
Meanwhile, some 137,000 cases of cholera and diarrhea have been recorded this year, nearly a quarter of them in children below five, according to the UN.
The UN says the country’s health system has in effect collapsed, with hospitals lacking beds and basic medicine and turning away sick people. The country’s malnourished population has among the world’s lowest immunity levels to disease.
The world body’s children agency, UNICEF, said water, sanitation and hygiene services for four million people would start shutting down in July if it did not get $30m by the end of this month.
“The crisis is of cataclysmic proportions,” Sara Beysolow Nyanti, UNICEF’s country representative for Yemen, told Al Jazeera.
She said a lack of COVID-19 testing is exacerbating the humanitarian situation unfolding in Yemen, where young boys and girls are the most at risk.
“The children in Yemen are worse off than all children in the world – and for us, this is an emergency.”