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Hospitals struggling to cope as violence escalates

Yemeni army soldiers
(Aljazeera English)

Hospitals in the Yemeni capital Sana’a are struggling to cope with a stream of patients - victims of the violence that has gripped the country since February.

"We are facing an unprecedented shortage of medicine and qualified staff. All the roads leading to the hospital are either blocked or unsafe, putting the lives of dozens of wounded at high risk," Mohammed al-Qubati, head of a private field hospital (set up in February by businessmen linked to the opposition) which has been treating injured protesters, told IRIN.

Ali al-Ghashm, deputy manager of the government-run Military Hospital in Sana’a, said the hospital's Intensive Care Unit (ICU) is filled with seriously injured soldiers following clashes in Sana’a and nearby Arhab, or with Islamic militants in Aden.

"There is not enough space to receive injured civilians… Some of the seriously injured cases in the ICU have no beds. The unit is also facing a shortage of artificial breathing tubes.”

Tareq Numan, a senior surgeon in the University Hospital, appealed to government health officials to allow some of the wounded to be transferred to government-run hospitals in Sana’a.

At least nine people were killed and dozens of others injured in clashes between pro- and anti-government forces on 21 September in western and northern parts of Sana’a, despite the announcement of a ceasefire by Vice-President Abdurabu Hadi the previous day.

"The situation is catastrophic. A nine-month old baby boy was killed by a stray bullet in Hayel Street while in his mother's lap," Ahmad al-Qurashi, chairman of local NGO Seyaj Organization for Childhood Protection, told IRIN.

Abdullatif al-Zayani, secretary-general of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), and UN envoy Jamal Bin Omar left Sana’a on 21 September after a two-day visit, having failed to bring the ruling and opposition parties to the negotiating table under a GCC-brokered transition plan dating back to April.

Point of no return?

Hundreds of families have fled their homes to safer areas in Sana’a or outside the city, said Yahya Malik, chief of the city’s al-Qaa neighbourhood.

Observers warn that the country is entering a state of unprecedented chaos after the killing of protesters. "Now we have crossed the point of no return," said Mohammed Qubati, a former adviser to Yemen's prime minister. "Yemen is going to be gripped by chaos and anarchy; there will be internal strife and the country's fragmentation."

Pro- and anti-government snipers are on rooftops of buildings overlooking Zubair, Hayel, Baghdad and 60-metre streets northwest of Sana’a.

According to political analyst Mohammed Ezzan, armed tribesmen are also gearing up to avenge the deaths of protesters who in some cases are their offspring. "The country is on the brink of civil war, or at least wide-scale revenge killings with different types of arms available in almost every Yemeni house," he said.


This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions

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