Amid Saudi Siege, Lack of Fuel a Disaster Exhausting Health Sector in Yemen
The health sector in Yemen has entered a critical state due to the continued blockade and detention of fuel tankers by the Saudi-led coalition.
The fuel crisis as a result of the blockade prompted the leadership of the Ministry of Health in Sana’a to hold an emergency meeting last Thursday, bringing together the leadership of the ministry with international and foreign organizations working in the health sector, during which Health Minister Dr. Taha Al-Mutawakkil warned against the cessation of health and medical facilities in Yemen, causing the lives of thousands of patients to die.
He pointed out that the continuation of the Saudi siege, and the prevention of the arrival of fuel tankers, doubled the aggravation of the health crisis, in addition to the bombing and destruction that it was subjected to by the Saudi warplanes during the past seven years.
He stressed that the health sector is facing a complex crime, holding the Saudi coalition responsible for detaining fuel tankers. He also denounced the United Nations’ silence, pointing out that the continuation of the siege exacerbated the health crisis.
The Minister of Health held the United Nations and the countries of Saudi coalition responsible for the daily deaths, due to the deteriorating health situation, as a result of the continued prevention of fuel tankers from entering Yemen.
He also stressed that the UN and international organizations working in Yemen are concerned with forming a unified working group to pressure and introduce the needs of the medical and health sector from oil derivatives.
“We do not want expressions of solidarity, but we want to stand by the health sector at this critical time, in word and deed, to address the critical humanitarian situation,” he said.
Minister Al-Mutawakkil renewed the call to neutralize the health, water, sanitation and service sectors from targeting, and to ensure fuel supplies, pointing out that the health sector needs six million liters of diesel per month to operate hospitals, health centers, oxygen factories and pharmaceutical factories.
He explained that there are 145 government hospitals that need 1.5 million liters of diesel per month, while oncology centers, limbs, laboratories and dialysis centers need 150 thousand liters. While 184 private hospitals need three million liters, and 131 clinics and private medical facilities need 150 thousand liters, in addition to fifteen oxygen and pharmaceutical plants that need 500,000 liters.
“Today, ambulances cannot transport critical-cases patients from one province to another, as a result of the lack of fuel, as well as transporting the injured of traffic accidents or US-Saudi airstrikes,” he added.
The continuation of maritime piracy, and the prevention of the entry of fuel tankers, is considered a “collective death sentence”, which would turn hospitals into cemeteries in light of running out of fuel, and stopping ambulance services.
Effects of Worsening Fuel Crisis
In light of the continuing fuel crisis, the health sector in Yemen is going through an advanced stage of collapse and paralysis, and public and private hospitals are threatened with closure at any moment, not to mention the temporary suspension of some departments due to running out of fuel.
One of the most important effects of the aggravation of the fuel crisis is the doubling of patients’ suffering, the increase in the death rate, the spread of diseases and epidemics, the necessity of most hospitals to reduce working hours and the threat of 400 hospitals to stop.
The lack of fuel derivatives also causes the lives of about 1,000 children in nurseries to die, and the dialysis machines stop for nearly 5,000 patients who need dialysis twice a week.
International Organizations Are Abandoning Health Sector
What exacerbated the crisis was the announcement by international organizations of cutting their supplies of fuel to hospitals since the beginning of last January, in conjunction with the Saudi siege.
The Deputy Director of the Sabeen Maternity and Childhood Hospital in Sana’a, Sarah Jahaf, revealed that the blockade imposed by the Saudi coalition on Yemen and the ban on entry of oil derivatives was accompanied by the organizations’ apology for the continued provision of fuel that they were providing to the hospital.
“The organizations informed us that since the beginning of 2022, the fuel supplies to the hospital will be cut off, and they have not provided us with anything,” she said.
The most severe fuel crisis is experienced since the beginning of the war on Yemen, according to the Yemeni Petroleum Company in Sana’a, which launched a humanitarian distress call about the lack of fuel needed to supply vital sectors, especially the health sector, after seven fuel tankers were detained months ago at sea and there is no way to enter them so far.