NRC: Lack of getting medical help abroad kills more in Yemen

Cheryl Sanders
August 11, 2017

The country of 27 million has also been struggling to cope with a cholera epidemic that has affected 473,000 people and killed almost 2,000.

More than 54,000 people have been killed or injured since the coalition's involvement.

Still, Yemen's health ministry says that violence has exacted a smaller death toll than the closure of the airport in the capital, Sanaa, which has left thousands more people incapable of seeking medical treatment overseas.

"Without access to safe, commercial travel, Yemenis are left with no way to access critical medical care", Mutasim Hamdan, the Norwegian Refugee Council's director in Yemen, said Wednesday in a statement. A cholera epidemic, which began in April 2015, has infected more than 425,000 people and killed 1,900, according to the UN.

"The command had and is still working to its best efforts to ensure the safe arrival of all commercial, cargo and relief flights to all Yemeni airports in Sanaa, Aden, Al Hudaydah, Seiyun, Mukalla and Socotra through issuing proper flight permits for all incoming requests, and assigning Bisha Airport for air traffic management in accordance with UNSC resolution 2216". "Thousands of women, men and children who could have been saved lost their lives". Mohammed's father died less than a day before his flight.

Yemeni rescue workers carry a victim on a stretcher amid the rubble of a destroyed building in Sana'a, October 2016.

Yemen's foreign ministry accused the rebel militias of attacking the Sudanese embassy in the Yemeni capital Sana'a which is controlled by the Iran-backed alliance of Houthis Ansarullah group and former President Ali Abdullah Saleh's General People's Congress (GPC).

Prior to the escalation of conflict in Yemen, an estimated 7,000 Yemenis were travelling overseas from Sana'a International Airport for medical treatment not available within the country, a number that grew exponentially following the escalation of violence in early 2015.

The Saudi naval blockade of the country has caused a humanitarian catastrophe, particularly in the country's Shi'ite-dominated north, as they have only one port, and ships are rarely allowed to deliver aid to that port.

Referring to United Nations figures, the NRC estimated that before the conflict, 7,000 Yemenis went overseas for medical treatment from Sana'a every year.

The groups said that, while an estimated 7,000 Yemenis travelled abroad for medical treatment before the conflict, the ongoing violence meant that the number requiring life-saving treatment overseas had grown to 20,000.

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