COVID-19 overwhelms Yemen and urgent aid needed: Doctors Without Borders

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Doctors Without Borders (MSF) warned Saturday that the number of critically COVID-19 was rising across war-wracked Yemen, urging assistance from donor countries and specialized groups.

“Medecins Sans Frontieres is seeing a dramatic influx of critically ill COVID-19 patients requiring hospitalization in Aden, Yemen, and many other parts of the country,” MSF said on Twitter.

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“We are urging all medical humanitarian organizations already present in Yemen to rapidly scale up their COVID-19 emergency response,” said Raphael Veicht, MSF head of mission in the country.

The southern port city of Aden is Yemen’s de facto capital, where the internationally recognized government is based after being routed from Sanaa in the north by the Iran-backed Houthi militia.

Already an impoverished country, six years of war in Yemen has battered the economy and left its healthcare system in ruins.

The United Nations calls the situation there the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

“All aspects of the COVID-19 response are lacking and need greater international support, from public health messaging, to vaccinations to oxygen therapy,” said Veicht.

“Support is needed across the board,” he pleaded, including from “international donors who cut their humanitarian funding to Yemen.”

Early this month, the United Nations tried to raise $3.85 billion from more than 100 governments and donors, but only $1.7 billion was offered.

MSF said Yemeni hospitals are facing a “critically low supply of oxygen to treat patients.”

“Unfortunately, many of the patients we see are already in a critical condition when they arrive,” said MSF medical coordinator Line Lootens.

Yemen has officially recorded some 3,900 virus cases among its 30 million population, including 820 deaths – but experts say the real toll could be higher.