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The Catastrophe in Yemen

The war on Yemen is bringing the country’s medical services to the point of collapse:

Since late March, 2,000 people have been killed and 8,000 wounded. During that period, the number of people who require urgent medical care has surged to 8.6 million, the World Health Organization said in a statement released last week. But even people who need basic treatment or help such as obstetrical support during childbirth lack access to care, the statement said.

The WHO statement also notes that a national program to fight tuberculosis has been suspended and that “infectious diseases such as malaria and dengue fever are spreading. Outbreaks of polio and measles are also serious risks.”

As the report goes on to explain, Yemen’s power infrastructure has been badly damaged by the war, and that has forced hospitals to rely on generators for power. Because of the reliance on generators, Yemen’s hospitals are being crippled by the fuels shortage caused by the Saudi-led blockade. The same shortage also makes it difficult to bring the sick and injured in so that they can be treated. The delays in receiving treatment for injuries have had severe consequences even for those that survive their wounds:

“Because this is delaying their ability to reach hospitals, we’ve increasingly had to amputate arms and legs because these people are arriving with bullet and shrapnel wounds that have gone untreated for so long,” Mahweeti said.

Since the Saudi bombing campaign began, he has performed 10 amputations on war-wounded patients, which he described as last-resort measures. “We could have saved their limbs if they had received treatment sooner,” he said.

Compounding these problems, the blockade is cutting the country off from needed medical supplies. The Saudi-led intervention has taken an already impoverished country heavily dependent on imports and aid and deprived it of almost all means of receiving basic supplies and assistance. This has put millions of lives in jeopardy, and all so that the Saudis can combat the phantom of Iranian “expansionism.” The humanitarian catastrophe unfolding in Yemen will keep getting worse as long as the country is being strangled by the inhumane and outrageous blockade imposed by the Saudi-led coalition. The U.S. continues to support this appalling and indefensible intervention, and in so doing contributes to the enormous suffering now being inflicted on an entire country.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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