Statement on Yemen by Principals of the Inter-Agency Standing Committee

Published Date

Today, the IASC Principals issued a joint statement, expressing alarm about the situation in Yemen, as COVID-19 is spreading rapidly amid unabated conflict and lac of funding for humanitarian programmes.

Against a backdrop of mounting humanitarian needs, especially for families displaced by the fighting, official COVID-19 case figures as of 28 May stand at 253 cases and 50 deaths. Further testing and analysis are required to provide a true picture of the epidemic and the case fatality rate in Yemen.

But as in many other countries, testing kits in Yemen are in short supply, and official reports are lagging far behind actual infections. Official figures indicate that COVID-19 cases have been confirmed in 10 of the country’s 22 governorates, demonstrating widespread transmission. But testing and reporting remain limited and it is likely that most areas of the country are already impacted, if not all. People with severe symptoms, like high  fevers and distressed breathing, have been turned away from health facilities that were either full or unable to provide safe treatment. 

The situation of vulnerable people like displaced people, more than half of them women and 27 percent of whom are below age 18, migrants and refugees, is particularly concerning as they traditionally face barriers when accessing health care while living in harsh conditions. Most of the 3.6 million displaced live in unsanitary and overcrowded conditions, making both physical distancing and regular handwashing impossible. They are also often blamed for disease outbreaks like COVID-19 and cholera. Yemen remains the world's fourth largest internal displacement crisis due to conflict.

The principals said humanitarian agencies are responding to the pandemic including by scaling up public health measures; actively promoting personal hygiene and physical distancing; mobilizing life-saving supplies and equipment; and maintaining essential health and humanitarian services. We are running out of time. We ask donors to pledge generously and pay pledges promptly.