On the 7th of May 2020, the Helsinki Policy Forum organised an online workshop to explore the implications of the Covid-19 pandemic for Yemen. The meeting was opened by H.E. Abdul Raqeeb Fatah, Yemeni Minister for Local Government, and attended by Yemeni health experts from Aden, Hadramaut. Ma’rib and Ta’izz; representatives from the World Health Organisation (WHO); doctors from Italy, Ireland, Germany, Sweden and Turkey; representatives from the Order of Malta; and government officials from Europe and the Gulf. The aim was to first clarify the current situation in the country and then identify where support needs to be targeted.
Yemen has almost no capacity to confront another health emergency. The war has already disabled approximately half the country’s hospitals and clinics. The UN estimates that 80% of the population are in need of humanitarian assistance, and 4.3 million are believed to have been internally displaced. Food insecurity is rife, and 16 million people lack access to clean drinking water. Consequently, the country has already had to grapple with several disease outbreaks, most notably of cholera but also dengue fever.
Given the country had already been designated the world’s largest humanitarian emergency, the international community should explore prioritising aid for Yemen to help the country cope with Covid-19. A failure to do so, threatens to push the country into a deeper disaster with immediate ramifications for regional stability.