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Spiralling conflict Red Cross: Yemen is ‘crumbling’ from war

Maurer said the world needed to wake up to what was going on in Yemen

(Keystone)

After months of civil war in Yemen the situation is ”catastrophic” and the nation is “crumbling”, declared Peter Maurer, the president of the Geneva-based International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) on Tuesday.

Maurer, who has just spent three days visiting Yemen, said he was appalled by the suffering he had witnessed.

“The humanitarian situation is nothing short of catastrophic. Every family in Yemen has been affected by this conflict," Maurer said in a statement. “The world needs to wake up to what is going on.”

The World Health Organisation said on Tuesday that 4,345 people had been killed and 22,110 injured since March 19, citing figures from Yemeni health care facilities. Around 1.3 million have fled their homes.

A Saudi-led, American-supported coalition began launching airstrikes in March against Shiite rebels known as Houthis and their allies.

Health care in crisis

"Health facilities have been massively attacked as well as suffering collateral damage. Medicines can't get in so patient care is falling apart. Fuel shortages mean equipment doesn't work. Insecurity means vaccination campaigns don't happen,” he said.

The ICRC has called for free access to deliver life-saving food, water and medicines, while urging the warring parties to work towards a negotiated solution.

According to the WHO, nearly a quarter of all health facilities are not functioning or only partly. Health workers have fled, creating gaps in providing primary medical treatment and war surgery. Also, the shortages of power and fuel have led to the closure of intensive care units and operation rooms in almost all hospitals, a WHO spokesperson said on Tuesday.

Hilal Elver, United Nations special rapporteur on the right to food, said 12.9 million people in Yemen lacked basic food supplies and 850,000 children faced acute malnutrition. 

“Sieges in a number of governorates, including Aden, AL Dhali, Lahj and Taiz have been preventing staple food items, such as wheat, from reaching the civilian population, while airstrikes have reportedly targeted local markets and trucks laden with food items,” she said on Tuesday.

She warned that the “deliberate starvation of civilians” may constitute a war crime.

swissinfo.ch with agencies

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