In pictures: Toxic trash adds to Yemen’s woes
Vast stinking pools created in part by untreated medical waste have accumulated, threatening to contaminate the water supply
Many disasters loom over one of the poorest countries in the Middle East as it suffers through nearly two years of war, among them a colossal pile of waste outside Yemen’s capital leeching toxic waste into its diminishing water supply.
Vast stinking pools created in part by untreated medical waste have accumulated, threatening to contaminate the water supply for the parched city which experts have long predicted will be the first capital to use up all its water.
“The main problem we’re now facing is in the management of waste in Yemen that is posing a real danger to the general health of residents,” said Professor Mohammed al-Qahali, head of the science and technology department at Sanaa University.
Al-Qahali warned that the pools of contaminated waste contained “hazardous chemicals that could cause a variety of diseases including cancers, birth defects, immunological disorders and many other diseases.”
‘The smell of rot’
The United Nations estimates that over four-fifths of Yemen’s 28 million people need some form of humanitarian aid as a near-blockade on Yemen’s ports and fighting have devastated the fragile economy, spreading hunger and disease.
As UN-backed peace efforts have repeatedly failed to stop the fighting, residents living near the growing heap have seen their lives become more unbearable.
“At night I cover my mouth (from the smell), the smell of rot wakes me from my sleep, and it has only gotten worse since they struck the recycling plant,” Shayef al-Asri said.
But the crisis may be more than a disgusting inconvenience and may threaten to end more than two millennia of urban civilization in the capital, said environment professor at Sanaa University Khaled al-Thor.
“It requires expertise and an immediate resolution, otherwise ... Sanaa will disappear from the map.”