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Major children's hospital in Yemen on verge of closure

A blockade on Yemen has put the Al-Sabeen Hospital at risk of having to shut doors within 48 hours, says NGO
NGOs have warned about the impact of blockades on access to medical resources (UNICEF UK Media)

A major hospital in Yemen's capital, held by the Houthis, is on the verge of shutting down as a result of a supply shortage caused by a coalition blockade, Save the Children has warned.

"Critical fuel shortages and a lack of medical supplies could force the Al-Sabeen Hospital to shut its doors within 48 hours," the humanitarian organisation said late on Sunday.

The hospital, supported by Save the Children, is the main facility for children and pregnant women in the area, and serves an estimated three million people, the organisation said in a statement.

The Saudi-led coalition, which mounted an air campaign against Yemen's Houthi militiamen in late March in support of exiled President Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi, has imposed a blockade on areas controlled by Houthis and fighters loyal to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh.

The hospital is reliant on the Red Sea port of Hodeida for 90 percent of its imports, Save the Children said.

"The hospital has entirely run out of IV fluid, anaesthetic, blood transfusion tests, Valium to treat seizures and ready-prepared therapeutic food for severely malnourished children," the statement said citing the hospital's deputy manager Halel al-Bahri.

“We are coordinating closely with the other functioning hospitals in the city, sharing our stocks so that everyone has a bit of everything. But everyone is running low now and there isn’t enough to go around.”

“The situation is absolutely critical. We don’t have time to wait for stocks and fuel to come in. If this hospital closes, children and women will die. The numbers of those who die will be much higher than those being killed by the bombs and the fighting," the statement said.

Fuel that the hospital acquired from the black market was enough to run power generators for two more days, he said.

Across Yemen, 15.2 million people lack access to basic healthcare, an increase of 40 percent since March, the organisation warned.

More than half of a million children are expected to suffer severe acute malnutrition this year, and there has been a 150 percent increase in hospital admissions for malnutrition since March, it said.


"It is crucial that enough medicines, supplies and fuel are able to get in to the country, otherwise the number of children dying from treatable illnesses is only going to get bigger," said Edward Santiago, Save the Children's Yemen director.

"Civilians are paying the price for the war in Yemen, which over the course of five months has plunged the country into a devastating humanitarian crisis."

Over the weekend, the Saudi-led coalition continued to bomb Houthi targets and Saleh loyalists. 

A coalition air raid struck a factory in northern Yemen on Sunday killing 17 civilians and 14 Houthi rebels, medics and witnesses said.

The raid targeted a bottled-water plant in Hajja, a province bordering Saudi Arabia. Most of the bodies transferred to the main public hospital in Hajja were charred, according to medics.

A similar airstrike last month killed 65 civilians at residences of employees of a power plant in Mokha, according to Human Rights Watch.

Another attack on a dairy plant in the Red Sea port city of Hodeida in April left 35 civilians dead.

Warplanes from the Saudi-led coalition on Sunday carried out at least 12 raids on Houthi positions in northern Yemen, where the group has a stronghold.

Four strikes took place in the central Baida province, witnesses said, and other air raids targeted Houthi positions south of Sanaa.

A Saudi-led coalition air raid struck a factory in northern Yemen on Sunday killing 17 civilians and 14 Houthi rebels, medics and witnesses said.

The raid targeted a bottled-water plant in Hajja, a province bordering Saudi Arabia. Most of the bodies transferred to the main public hospital in Hajja were charred, according to medics.

A similar air strike last month killed 65 civilians at residences of employees of a power plant in Mokha, according to Human Rights Watch.

Another attack on a dairy plant in the Red Sea port city of Hodeida in April left 35 civilians dead.

Warplanes from the Saudi-led coalition on Sunday carried out at least 12 raids on rebel positions in northern Yemen, where the Houthis have their stronghold.

Four strikes took place in the central Baida province, witnesses said, and other air raids targeted rebel positions south of Sanaa.
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