Save the Children: ‘Warring parties in Yemen could not even lay down weapons for two weeks’

FAIRFIELD, Conn. (April 22, 2020)—April 23 marks the last day of the two-week ceasefire that was unilaterally declared by the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen.

Since the ceasefire was declared on April 9, at least 38 civilians have been killed or maimed, including five children who were killed and six others who were wounded in different attacks. In 29 cases, houses were hit[i].

This was the second ceasefire announcement since the start of the COVID-19 global pandemic. Yemen announced its first positive case on April 10.

Xavier Joubert, Save the Children country director in Yemen, said:
“It is hugely disappointing that the warring parties could not even lay down their weapons for two weeks to fend off the most imminent threat Yemen is facing: a possible COVID-19 outbreak. This demonstrates a complete lack of political will from all involved in this terrible conflict, for which civilians pay the highest price day in, day out.

“Barely one day after the ceasefire was announced, the first case of COVID-19 was confirmed in the country. Besides violence, disease, malnutrition, and recent heavy floods, which pose an additional health risk as they can cause outbreaks of diseases such as cholera and dengue fever, Yemenis now face the possible spread of the coronavirus.

“Knowing that only half of the country’s health facilities are fully functional, and only 700 ICU beds and 500 ventilators are available across the country, COVID-19 is an additional risk Yemen is undoubtedly not prepared for.

“Our teams on the ground are working hard to support the communities in these dire times, but you can’t fight a virus whilst coming under attack or supply a hospital when roads are routinely targeted.  How can we expect families to get to a health facility, or buy hygiene products when they have to fear for their lives on the street?

“We call on all parties to come to and fully implement a ceasefire as soon as possible, so the Yemeni people can focus their energy on preventing an outbreak The ceasefire should be used to work towards a sustainable peace and a political solution to this war—it’s the only way to truly end this humanitarian crisis.”

 

[i]According to preliminary data from the Civilian Impact Monitoring Project (CIMP), between April 9, 2020 and April 20. The CIMP is a mechanism for the collection, analysis and dissemination of open source data on the civilian impact from armed violence in Yemen, in order to inform and complement protection programming. It’s run as a service under the United Nations Protection Cluster.

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