Yemen’s Houthi-aligned government yesterday accused the Saudi-led coalition of denying the country access to vital medicine. According to Dr Taha Al-Mutawakil, the Minister of Health in the National Salvation Government (NSG), one of the first things the Arab coalition did was to target the health and medical infrastructure by imposing blockades, closing Sanaa airport and preventing medicines from entering Yemen.
Mutawakil’s comments were part of a speech marking World Pharmacist Day in Sanaa. He emphasised the importance of promoting pharmaceutical research.
“Medicines produced in Yemen don’t cover 10 per cent of the country’s actual demand,” he explained. The other 90 per cent is imported. The health ministry also noted the impact on the health sector caused by the oil shortage in Yemen.
However, yesterday the exiled President of the UN-recognised Yemeni government, Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi, accused the NSG of impeding the flow of humanitarian aid following a warning made by UN humanitarian chief Mark Lowcock last week. Lowcock said that “the spectre of famine” has returned to the war-torn country and for the first time singled out Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Kuwait for not giving anything to this year’s $3.4 billion humanitarian appeal.
A Human Rights Watch report published last week also found that international donors slashed their funding in June, partly because of the “systemic interference” in relief operations by the Houthis, Hadi’s forces and southern separatists.
In Hadi’s pre-recorded speech to the UN General Assembly, he also asked the NSG authorities to allow a UN team to have access to the Safer oil tanker abandoned in the Red Sea, which risks causing environmental damage and adding to Yemen’s woes.