Press briefing note on Yemen
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights
12 June 2020
We are alarmed at the desperate situation in Yemen, where the healthcare system is on the brink of collapse, and are fearful that countless lives will be lost not only to COVID-19 but as a result of malaria, cholera, dengue fever and other diseases. We urge international donors to provide immediate relief to help the millions who have already endured five years of warfare.
We echo the concerns of the UN Secretary-General who said on June 2 that it is now a race against time for Yemen. Already, four out of every five people, 24 million people in all, need lifesaving aid in what remains the world’s largest humanitarian crisis.
More than 30 of the 41 UN-supported programmes in Yemen will close in the coming weeks if additional funds are not secured. Now, more than ever, the country needs the outside world’s help.
Our Office has received reports of hospitals turning away sick people, some of whom were struggling for breath and with a high fever. There are simply no beds, little equipment, few staff and next to no medicine. Sanitation and clean water are also in short supply.
The country has officially recorded more than 500 cases of COVID-19. However, official reports are lagging far behind actual infections, especially in areas controlled by the de facto authorities in the north. The overall case fatality rate is over 20 percent.
Many functioning health centres lack basic equipment to treat COVID-19. Health workers have no protective gear, and most are receiving no salaries, resulting in health workers not reporting to duty.
We call on the parties to the conflict to agree on an immediate ceasefire, abide by their obligations under international law and take every possible measure to protect Yemenis and ensure their access to medical treatment and information to contain the spread of the current deadly outbreaks in Yemen. And we urge them to allow unhindered access and the delivery of much needed humanitarian assistance to civilians across Yemen.