Geneva - The Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor and SAM for Rights and Liberates stated on Saturday 2 May 2020 that parties to the conflict in Yemen should take immediate precautions to protect civilians in areas under their control in light of the outbreak of the Coronavirus pandemic COVID19.
In a joint statement, the Euro-Med Monitor and SAM called for adhering to the laws of war and ensuring Yemeni civilians’ access to humanitarian aid to combat the global pandemic and protect the right to health.
Following the announcement of two deaths and seven cases of COVID19, the virus became a serious threat to 30 million people in Yemen, along with the high number of cases in the surrounding countries and the collapse of the health care system in the country due to the war and internal conflicts.
The statement indicated that around half of the health facilities in Yemen either closed their doors or operate partially due to the impact of the ongoing war on the country since 2015, and the frequent attacks on medical facilities and teams, which undermined the ability of the health care system to face such pandemics or diseases.
The two organizations warned that the ongoing conflict between Ansar Allah group (Houthis) and the government forces supported by the Arab Coalition led by Saudi Arabia created conditions that facilitated the outbreak of several diseases targeting Yemeni civilians for years such as Cholera, Measles, and Dengue Fever.
The two organizations criticized the failure of the health-care authorities to clearly plan precautionary measures to prevent the risk of the Coronavirus, especially in the temporary capital of Aden, where the internal conflict between government forces and the separatist Transitional Council has led to the disruption of aid efforts.
The statement warned of the dangers of continued neglect which would make the virus spread into other Yemeni cities, calling on the government to deal transparently with the pandemic, and to increase active intervention by the World Health Organization (WHO) to support efforts made to combat COVID19 in Yemen.
The joint statement denounced the closure of hospitals and health centers in the face of patients suspected of being infected with the Coronavirus, calling for opening a comprehensive and impartial investigation into not providing any medical assistance to patients and critical cases. It called for holding concerned bodies to account for not performing their professional duties which may entail criminal responsibility.
The two organizations emphasized that any failure by the parties to the conflict in Yemen to take all necessary measures to prevent the outbreak of the Coronavirus pandemic is a violation of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, which stipulates the right of every human being to “enjoy the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health.” It affirms that governments are obligated to take effective measures which lead to “the prevention, treatment and control of epidemic, endemic, occupational and other diseases.”