Geneva Palais Briefing Note: The impact of the closure of all air, land and sea ports of Yemen on children
This is a summary of what was said by Meritxell Relano, UNICEF Representative in Yemen – to whom quoted text may be attributed – at today’s press briefing at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.
[Editor’s text bolding]
GENEVA, 10 November 2017 – Yemen is facing the largest humanitarian crisis and the worst food crisis in the world. Nearly 7 million people do not know where their next meal will come from and the survival of millions of people depends on humanitarian assistance operations. You have all seen the statements from the humanitarian community in Yemen and from the Emergency Relief Coordinator based on his last visit on the ground. Fuel, medicines and food are essential in this context. And in order to get them in, we need access.
The recent closure of the Yemen’s airspace, sea and land ports has worsened the already shrinking space for the lifesaving humanitarian work. It is blocking the delivery of vital humanitarian assistance to children in desperate need in Yemen. And it is making a catastrophic situation for children far worse. The port of Hodeida is where most of the humanitarian supplies enter and it is essential that the port resumes its activity.
Also, because missions on the ground are not possible, blocking the movement of humanitarian workers and supplies, this means that millions of children will be deprived of lifesaving humanitarian assistance.
Let me give you some examples of the impact of the closure of the entry points to the country:
The current stocks of fuel will only last until the end of November. We need fuel to maintain health centers open and water systems functioning (both for distributing water and for treating used water). The price of existing fuel has increased by 60%.
If fuel stocks are not replenished:
:: UNICEF’s ongoing WASH response to respond to the cholera outbreak is likely to be affected. This could impact nearly 6 million people living in cholera high-risk districts.
:: The operating water supply systems and waste water treatment plants will stop functioning, causing unimaginable risks.
:: The functionality and mobility of the Rapid Response Teams, serving nearly half a million every week, will be hindered.
:: Due to shortage of fuel supply, 22 Governorates/District cold rooms/district vaccine stores are at a major risk of being shut down. Vaccines for thousands of children could be damaged.
If vaccines are blocked from reaching Yemen, at least 1 million children under the age of one will be at risk of diseases including polio and measles:
…The current stock of vaccines in the country will last 1 month
…Shortage of medical supplies will only worsen the Diphtheria outbreak recently reported in five districts of Ibb. About 87 suspected cases were reported with nine associated deaths.
With more than 60 per cent of population food insecure, the closure of the Yemen’s airspace, sea and land ports will lead to more deterioration in food security level which will worsen malnutrition rates.
Children are suffering from severe malnutrition and diseases that could be easily prevented. Children need urgent care and any disruption in bringing in therapeutic nutrition supplies will only mean that more children in Yemen will die.
UNICEF calls on all parties to the conflict in Yemen to allow and facilitate safe, sustainable, rapid and unhindered humanitarian access to all children and families in need, through land, air and sea.
WHO warns that more people will die if ports in Yemen do not reopen to humanitarian aid
9 November 2017 | GENEVA – For the fourth consecutive day, WHO’s operations in Yemen have been severely hampered due to the closure of all land, sea and air ports.
“WHO and the other humanitarian agencies need immediate and unhindered humanitarian access to Yemen”, said WHO Executive Director for Emergencies Dr Peter Salama. “The country is still facing the world’s largest cholera outbreak and 7 million people are on the brink of famine, including some two million severely malnourished children. If we can’t bring food and medical supplies into Yemen we will not be able to save people’s lives.”
WHO’s supplies are critically low. On Wednesday, WHO was prevented from delivering 250 tonnes of medical supplies via sea. The supply ship could not leave Djibouti as previously planned because of the closure of Yemen’s Al-Hudaydah’s port. The ship was carrying surgical kits, anaesthesia machines, infant incubator sets, water purification tablets and other essential supplies.
“We are particularly worried with the low stock of trauma kits”, said WHO representative in Yemen, Dr Nevio Zagaria. “We have enough for 2,000 surgeries but because of the escalating conflict we have treated hundreds of trauma patients in the last few weeks alone. If the hostilities continue and the ports remain closed, we will not be able to perform life-saving surgeries or provide basic health care.”
The closure of the ports will also affect the response to the cholera outbreak. As of 5 November, a total of 908,400 suspected cases and 2192 deaths have been reported since 27 April 2017 in 22 of 23 governorates. “We have made progress and there have been fewer deaths from cholera but we will suffer a major setback if we don’t have full access to all affected areas”, said Dr Zagaria.
Providing emergency health services and supporting partners in Yemen is a top priority for WHO. So far in 2017, WHO has provided 1500 tonnes of medicines and supplies. WHO-supported mobile medical teams have provided 21,443 consultations. WHO-supported surgical teams have conducted 9300 surgical interventions.