Yemen’s deadly stampede highlights humanitarian crisis

Digital Originals

A stampede at a financial aid distribution event in Yemen’s capital Sanaa on April 20 killed at least 78 people and wounded another 73, according to Houthi officials. The tragedy highlights the dire humanitarian situation in a country dealing with a long-running war.

At least 78 people were killed in a stampede in Sanaa, as hundreds gathered to receive charity aid. The donations for the poor were organized by merchants for Ramadan, and totaled about $10 for each person.

In an attempt at crowd control, Houthi rebels fired into the air striking an electrical wire. That triggered an explosion and sparked panic among the crowd causing the stampede, according to witnesses.

Yemen is the Arabian Peninsula’s poorest country. Two-thirds of the Yemeni population need humanitarian aid, according to the UN.

Eight years of civil war in Yemen have killed more than 150,000 people and destroyed the country’s economy.

“We don’t even have a morsel, not a bit of rice to eat. We have nothing. We are suffocating here. We are dying,” said a Yemeni in Al Khokha to Sky news.

According to a UN humanitarian plan, $4.3 billion is needed in 2023 to reach Yemen’s poorest. A goal difficult to accomplish as donors are strained by various disasters around the world.

The UN calls Yemen one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises.

Per a UN report, only 54% of the country’s healthcare facilities are fully operational.

“Preventable diseases like measles and polio, are spreading at a dangerous pace, putting Yemenis youngest at even higher risk. We fear these outbreaks could deteriorate fast, especially in Houthi controlled areas where we are seeing increasing impediments to immunization, as well as misinformation that’s fueling vaccine skepticism,” said Ghada Mudawi, Deputy Director, Operations and Advocacy Division, United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affair at a UN meeting on Yemen.

The war split the country, with the largest area controlled by Houthis in the north, while an internationally recognized government operates from a temporary capital in Aden.

The Houthis are backed by Iran, while the Yemeni government is backed by Saudi Arabia.

Fueled by the conflict, Yemen’s poverty rate was estimated at 80% in 2022, according to the UN.

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