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Yemen war has taken out half of health facilities

November 7, 2016

The UN's international public health organization has warned of the devastating consequences of "critical shortages" in health services. The UN envoy has called for new peace talks between the government and rebels.

Women protest a peace roadmap in Yemen
Image: picture alliance/Yahya Arhab/E

The World Health Organization (WHO) on Monday reported that more than half of Yemen's hospitals and medical clinics are closed or only functioning partially, warning of the severe consequences that will likely take place due to damaged public health infrastructure.

Only 45 percent of the country's 3,500 health facilities surveyed by the UN's international public health organization were fully functional and accessible, the WHO said.

Meanwhile, in 42 percent of the nearly 300 districts examined, there were two or fewer doctors, while 20 percent of them had none.

"These critical shortages in health services mean that more people are deprived of access to life-saving interventions," the organization said.

"Absence of adequate communicable diseases management increases the risk of outbreaks such as cholera, measles, malaria and other endemic diseases," it added.

'People are dying'

More than 10,000 people have been killed since a Saudi-led coalition launched a brutal campaign against the Iran-aligned Houthis in March 2015.

The conflict has destroyed much of the impoverished country's infrastructure and displaced millions. Human rights organizations have staunchly criticized the Saudi-led coalition following dozens of reports of attacks on civilians and hospitals, including an airstrike that killed at least 130 people at a wedding party.

UN envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed on Monday told reporters in rebel-held Sanaa that the situation could not continue, calling for new peace talks between the internationally-recognized government and Shiite rebels.

"People are dying … the infrastructure is falling apart … and the economy is on the brink of abyss," the envoy said.

Yemen: crippled by hunger and war

ls/kl (AFP, Reuters, AP)