While half the world is busy seeking measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, in Yemen, one of the least prepared countries on the planet to face the disease, the opposing sides have chosen to increase tension and convert COVID-19 also in part of the conflict.
Despite calls for peace in recent weeks from UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, words that had been well received by both the Houthis and the internationally recognized government of Abdo Rabu Manur Hadi, the conflict, far from diminishing, has intensified.
If the Houthis launched two missiles on Saturday night, one into Riyadh airspace, causing two minor injuries, today the Saudi-led coalition bombed at least 15 targets in the Yemeni capital.
One horse breeder and 70 equines have died in the attacks, according to the Houthis.
But the most unusual point of the day has been the Houthis ‘accusation that Saudi Arabia is throwing out protective masks infected with the coronavirus and the rebels’ call on the population not to use them to avoid being contaminated.
Houthi Al Masira television began broadcasting a bright message earlier today warning people not to touch the elements the coalition is pulling from their planes.
Shortly before, the Houthi Ministry of Health had stated that “today the Saudi-American aggressor coalition threw out facial masks and other items … in a strange and unrealistic step.”
This rebel agency called on all citizens “to be careful not to touch any material that falls from the planes and to inform the Health and Safety authorities interested in these materials and keep them away from people until the competent authorities arrive.”
The Houthis affirmed that the measure seeks to “preserve” the security of the population and close “all doors” through which the aggressors seek to “spread disease and epidemics in Yemen as part of their war against the territory and people” in the country.
“At the Ministry of Public Health and Population, we regret that the coalition takes this step in light of Yemen’s freedom from this epidemic more than 100 days after it has spread throughout the world, and we hold them fully responsible for spreading this epidemic in this way or in other ways, “they added.
They also accused Riyadh of trying to pollute the country by stepping up travel to Yemen, after in recent days the Houthis accused the Saudis of trying to return the Yemenis who had pilgrimed to Muslim holy sites in Saudi Arabia. .
The Houthis took advantage of the message from their Ministry of Health to reiterate their demand to the UN and the World Health Organization (WHO) that they “fulfill their humanitarian and legal responsibility” against these acts of the “aggressor coalition” to threaten peace and seek to introduce the coronavirus “in the midst of the weak health situation” in the country.
Yemen is the only Arab country to date that has not accounted for a single case of coronavirus.
The WHO considers Yemen to be one of the countries with the highest risk in case of suffering the disease and with the least capacity to react, since its health structure is practically non-existent after more than five years of war.
Last week, coinciding with the fifth anniversary of the escalation of the conflict with Hadi’s departure for exile and the intervention of Saudi Arabia, the UN envoy for Yemen, Martin Griffiths, lamented that “the battlefields are dividing Yemen and making it more difficult to combat the possible COVID-19 outbreak. “