Yemen: 3.3 million people in need of critical aid in besieged Taiz, warns UN health agency

WHO has provided 30 metric tonnes of medicines and medical supplies to Taiz governorate in Yemen, sufficient for 600,000 beneficiaries, including 250,000 people inside Taiz City. Photo: WHO Yemen

21 October 2015 – The top United Nations health official in Yemen is appealing for unrestricted access to Taiz, where “innocent lives are at risk” in the besieged highland city where more than 3.3 million people are in critical need of health assistance, safe drinking water, food and fuel.

“The situation in Taiz is alarming,” warned Dr. Ahmed Shadoul, the World Health Organization (WHO) Representative in Yemen.

“Hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians need life-saving medicines and health services, food, safe water and fuel,” Dr. Shadoul said. “Humanitarian and health needs are increasing and the limited response we have been able to provide is not enough.”

Despite efforts by WHO to provide medicines and medical supplies to Taiz governorate, sufficient for 600,000 beneficiaries, including 250,000 people inside Taiz City, shortages of fuel and medicines have forced most health units in villages to shut down.

“Patients with chronic diseases such as diabetes, kidney disease and cancer, are unable to access life-saving essential medicines and dialysis centres due to limited access of health facilities and reduced functionality of others,” according to WHO.

WHO also said that shortages in food have led to significant price hikes, with many people now unable to afford basic food items, resulting in increased risk of malnutrition, especially in children.

“The main wells providing safe drinking-water have shut down due to interruptions in power supply and lack of fuel for generators,” the agency reported.

Through collaboration with health authorities in Taiz and its partners, WHO has been controlling a dengue fever outbreak in the governorate this year.

“There is so much more we can do for the people of Taiz, but we need unrestricted access so that we can reach more people, and additional funding to allow us to scale up our response,” said Dr. Shadoul.

“Unless we are able to overcome these two challenges, more innocent lives are at risk,” he said. “I call on all parties to the conflict to allow delivering aid into Taiz, and for the international donor community to support our work.”

He appealed for $60 million urgently needed for life-saving response operations across the country until the end of this year.


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