On October 20, the UN brokered a 72-hour ceasefire deal between the Houthi rebels and Saudi-backed government in Yemen.
It’s the first time the ceasefire has endured. Five such attempts have failed since there are too many forces at play: the Houthis, Saudi-backed government, local militias and Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.
The war has left 8000 civilians dead and over 48,000 injured, according to the United Nations.
Medical aid agency, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), is supporting the country’s broken healthcare infrastructure and treating the sick and wounded. MSF is also monitoring the potential outbreak of cholera.
Eric Jeunot, a program director at MSF who is currently based in Sanaa, the capital of Yemen, spoke to TRT World over the phone. He called for the urgent mobilisation of resources to address the humanitarian crisis in the country.
Q) How are things on the ground?
Eric: The war is very intense — the people are very tired and afraid. They don’t have access to basic medical care on daily basis. We wish [that] the ceasefire lasts as long as possible.
Q) How desperate are people for medical aid?
Patients arrive at the health centres in critical condition. People can’t move. They stay indoors until their diseases or injuries turn deadly. Plus, the war has destroyed the infrastructure, the roads and the bridges. It’s very difficult for people to travel. Even MSF has been hit four times.
Q) What worries you the most?
What MSF is worried about is the rising number of silent victims — the silent people who are hidden and staying in their homes with chronic diseases. These are people who meet road accidents, who need dialysis because of kidney failure, who have cancer. They cannot afford public transportation since the economy has collapsed.
Q) Has there been an outbreak of deadly diseases?
Our monitoring teams have alerted us about the cholera outbreak in three cities — Sanaa, Taiz, and Aden. We don’t know how bad it is as yet, but we are following the situation closely.
Q) Are healthcare workers in Yemen in need of outside support?
The needs are so huge that we do want the international community to help us in facilitating our work. We want more teams, more NGOs on the ground.
Author: Mehboob Jeelani