Health officials in Yemen urge truce to fight virus

A Yemeni volunteer disinfects the interior of a public transportaion van in the capital Sanaa, amid concerns over the spread of the novel coronavirus, on March 28, 2020. (AFP)
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Updated 31 March 2020

Health officials in Yemen urge truce to fight virus

  • Inside Houthi-controlled territories, health officials echoed the same concerns about the ability of the health system to fight the pandemic

AL-MUKALLA: Yemeni health officials have urged warring factions to honor their commitment to an immediate truce to enable the country’s health workers to prepare for the coronavirus in Yemen.
Officials warned that the disease will infect millions of Yemenis and kill thousands as the conflict is hampering the country’s ability to fight the pandemic.
Last week, the internationally recognized government and the Iran-backed Houthis welcomed a UN call for a temporary halt of hostilities to help health workers prepare for a potential outbreak. “War must stop for us to catch our breath and face the pandemic,” Dr. Wafaa Dahbali, manager of Al-Sadaqa Hospital in Aden, told Arab News.
Dr. Wafaa said that her hospital was struggling with an influx of thousands of people
who had fled their homes in contested areas in Hodeida, Taiz, Lahj amid a severe shortage of staff and funds. When the war stops, Dr. Wafaa said, displaced people would return home, which would ease pressure on health facilities. “The war has set the stage for the spread of diseases and plagues that we have never seen before,” he said.
Inside Houthi-controlled territories, health officials echoed the same concerns about the ability of the health system to fight the pandemic. Dr. Fuad Edris, the director of the provincial office of the Ministry of Health in the central province of Baydha, called for the establishment of a joint emergency command room for handling the virus.
“We are in support of stopping the war or any peace initiative,” Edris told Arab News. “There should be at least one command room. The heath sector should remain neutral,” he said, warning that weaker security measures at the country’s sea, land and air posts would allow coronavirus-infected people to enter the country.
Dr. Riyadh Al-Jariri, head of the Health Ministry’s Hadramout office, told Arab News that Houthis had asked local drug agencies to keep their stock of ventilators in Sanaa. “If there is no war, there would be a fair distribution of medical equipment,” Al-Jariri said.
“We are receiving war victims and patients from battlefields or areas with no functioning health facilities,” Al-Jariri said, adding that warring factions should focus their attention on imposing strict preventive measures inside cities under their control.
Despite agreeing to the UN truce call, fighting raged on Monday on most battlefields, prompting the UN envoy to Yemen, Martin Griffiths, to issue a statement. “I am gravely dismayed and disappointed by these actions at a time when the Yemeni public’s demands for peace are unanimous and louder than ever before. Yemen needs its leaders to focus every minute of their time on averting and mitigating the potentially disastrous consequences of a COVID-19 outbreak,” Griffiths said.


Emirates, Etihad to resume transit flights after UAE lifts suspension

Updated 04 June 2020

Emirates, Etihad to resume transit flights after UAE lifts suspension

  • The suspension was lifted late on Wednesday for UAE carriers
  • Foreign citizens remain banned from entering the Gulf Arab state except those holding UAE residency

DUBAI: Emirates and Etihad Airways will resume some transit flights after the United Arab Emirates (UAE) lifted a suspension on services where passengers stop off in the country to change planes, or for refuelling.
Dubai's Emirates, one of the world's biggest long-haul airlines, said on Thursday it would operate transit flights to 29 destinations in Asia, Europe and North America by June 15.
Abu Dhabi's Etihad, meanwhile, said it would carry transit passengers to 20 cities in Europe, Asia and Australia from June 10.
The suspension was lifted late on Wednesday for UAE carriers, more than two months after the Gulf Arab state halted all passenger flights in March as it introduced drastic measures to curb the spread of the new coronavirus.
It has since allowed a few, limited flights, while domestic restrictions such as the closure of shopping centres have been lifted.
Foreign citizens remain banned from entering the Gulf Arab state except those holding UAE residency, who require UAE government approval before returning.
The coronavirus pandemic, which has seen countries around the world shut their borders as they went into lockdown, has decimated the global airline industry as demand was crushed.
Many countries continue to enforce tight entry restrictions, including some countries banning foreign visitors. Airlines around the world have warned it will take years for travel demand to recover.