Regular Press Briefing by the Information Service, 10 July 2018 - Yemen



Tarik Jašarevic, for the World Health Organization (WHO), said that conditions in Hudaydah, even before the escalation of the conflict, had been some of the direst in Yemen. Hudaydah had registered the highest incidences of suspected cholera cases (around 14 per cent of reported cases countrywide since the start of the epidemic in April 2017) and diphtheria (209 suspected cases). In addition, there had been 252 suspected cases of measles.

The intensification of fighting in Hudaydah endangered not only those directly affected but also the 70 per cent of the population who depended on vital supplies, including health-care supplies, that flowed through Hudaydah port. The port constituted a lifeline not only for the city but for all the northern governorates.

According to local health facilities, a total of 328 injured and 46 deaths had been recorded in Hudaydah between 13 June and 7 July. However, fighting had decreased in the city and the port remained operational.

The governorate of Hudaydah had one of the highest malnutrition rates in the country, and the current escalation of fighting would likely further exacerbate that situation. According to a survey conducted in 2018, the Global Acute Malnutrition (GAM) rate in Hudaydah stood at 25.2 per cent and Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM) at 5 per cent. There were currently seven fully functioning therapeutic feeding centres in the governorate and seven in neighbouring governorates. The centres were being supported by WHO and UNICEF.

There was a narrow passage to Hudaydah with many checkpoints, but no blockade. The main pillars of WHO operations in the city were: trauma care, cholera, malnutrition, and continuity of care. The country office was working on strengthening hospital capacity to stabilize and refer trauma patients. WHO had positioned trauma supplies; essential supplies for 200,000 medical consultations; cholera treatments; and supplies for children who had SAM accompanied by medical complications. WHO had also procured 30 new ambulances for Hudaydah to improve early trauma care and the transport of patients to health facilities.

WHO had two cargo planes with medical supplies arriving in Sana’a that week with trauma kits, cholera kits and supplies for the management of severe malnutrition. In addition, 100 metric tons of supplies were due to arrive by ship from Djibouti.

WHO provided trauma supplies for 500 surgeries, both major and minor, to four hospitals in Hudaydah. WHO also provided extra patient beds and mattresses along with intensive care beds to Alolofi Public Hospital in Hudaydah. In addition, WHO was also supporting the monthly operational cost of seven ambulance vehicles to six hospitals.

WHO had deployed six surgical teams, trained five surgeons on management of vascular injuries and 60 health workers in mass casualty management. It was also providing over 100,000 litres of fuel per month to seven hospitals, and 450,000 litres of water to three hospitals. Health workers at primary health-care facilities in affected areas were being trained in psychological first aid. Finally, WHO was very grateful for a generous donation from Kuwait of USD 59 million to support its operations in Yemen.

Joel Millman, for the International Organization for Migration (IOM), said that IOM had received a generous contribution from Kuwait of USD 10 million, earmarked for humanitarian assistance in Yemen. The overall IOM appeal for Yemen was USD 96.2 million, while the appeal for the entire humanitarian community’s Humanitarian Response Plan was for USD 2.96 billion.

With the war in Yemen entering its third year, half the country’s population was living in areas directly affected by the conflict, and 22.2 million Yemenis – more than two thirds of the population – would require humanitarian aid during 2018. Nearly 90 per cent of all IDPs had been displaced for at least one year and 69 per cent for more than two years. A further 1 million IDPs had returned to their areas of origin but remained in dire need of aid. IOM teams on the ground had also been helping migrants caught up in the fighting. IOM called on all parties in the conflict to respect international humanitarian law and not to target any civilians, including migrants.

Responding to journalists’ questions, Mr. Jašareviæ said that 90 per cent of health-care facilities in Hudaydah were functioning although one – a dialysis centre – had been damaged by an explosion on 27 June. Health facilities and health workers should never be targeted. WHO would continue to support hospitals across Yemen but, even before the latest escalation, the health-care system in Hudaydah had been struggling to cope with shortages of fuel and medicines. The number of cases of diphtheria and cholera was decreasing, also in Hudaydah, but it was important to remain vigilant. To that end it was vital for access routes to remain open to enable WHO to preposition its supplies in the event of any outbreak. WHO was scaling up its operations in Hudaydah. In addition to the supplies that came in by sea, it also landed provisions at Sana’a airport then carried them to Hudaydah by road.