Warfronts limit Yemen govt's capacity to respond to covid-19

Warfronts limit Yemen govt's capacity to respond to covid-19

In the city of Marib where the government sits and thwarts the Houthi daily expansion attempts, Abdullah Al-Ibbi spends most of his day transporting wounded government soldiers and even rebel fighters in the ambulance he drives to the city's main hospital.

"Because the warfronts are always operational, healthcare resources are always in peak use," he says.

From the perspective of Al-Ibbi (as he identifies himself for fear of Houthi reprisal against his relatives in the theocratic rebels' territories),"if coronavirus comes here, it won't leave." Yemen confirmed its first case of coronavirus infection in the Arabian Sea port province of Hadhramout on Friday.

"We only have a handful of inefficient hospitals as you see. And as you know they are already stuffed beyond capacity."

The small dense city of three million people, most of them refugees from the militant-controlled territories, comes under continuous rocket attacks that kill and injure civilians "and "keep the hospitals under an overload."  

The latest such attack was on early Saturday the militants fired two days after the Arab Coalition declared a unilateral ceasefire. "Two civilians were killed and three were injured in the hit neighborhood," he says.

Ahmed Salem, a Public Health and Population official in Marib's provincial capital, told Al Sahwa the frequent Houthi rocket shelling will "surely limit the government's capacity to prepare and respond to the global pandemic if an outbreak occurs."

"We are pinning hopes on the public commitment to social distancing and hygiene and on God's assistance."

Years of insurgency by the extremist rebels to assert control over the country divided the country into de facto micro-states with dysfunctional health systems.

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