TEHRAN, Jul. 10 (Press Shia Agency) – Spokesman of the Yemeni Health Ministry Abdul Hakim al-Kahlani said cholera disease was rife in his country with intruders being the main cause.
Following 800 days of the outbreak of brutal attacks by Saudi Arabia and its allies on Yemen, its women, children and civilians remain under the most severe attacks and economic siege against the silence of international communities.
The United Nations has recently announced that more than 1,600 people have died of cholera in the country since April and in addition to the pervasive cholera outbreak, famine threatens lives of two-third of Yemenis.
In the same line, International Desk of Mehr News Agency conducted an interview with Spokesman of the Yemeni Health Ministry Abdul Hakim al-Kahlani the full text of which follows.
Please let us know the latest statistics on the number of Yemenis killed by cholera. What is the main cause of spread of the disease in Yemen and how do you evaluate the overall health system in Yemen? Is this system collapsing?
So far, about 297,000 people are suspected of cholera, and 1706 people have died as a result of the malignant disease. Cholera has been unprecedented in Yemen. The spread of this disease has several causes, but the main cause pertains to invasion of Yemen and perpetrators are responsible for its spread since that have caused gradual collapse of the Yemen’s health system.
When the perpetrators attack a health center deliberately and with disregard to international law, humanitarian values and Islamic ethics, they actually destroy the health system of Yemen. Intruders also bombard centers hosting Doctors Without Borders, while MSF, in addition to informing the aggressors of presence of its forces, has also installed signs on buildings where these physicians operate. They still become target of the attacks by Saudis.
Intruders also bombard electricity networks, and all Yemeni hospitals currently lack power; these hospitals currently operate with electric motors that produce only 24 hours of electricity during a week.
When perpetrators bombard drinkable water sources, they actually destroy infrastructure facilities, and in such a situation, people are forced to drink any kind of water source they find, regardless of its health. We know that cholera is transmitted through infected waters to humans. Therefore, the main factor for spread of cholera is the aggression by Saudis.
How many of Yemeni hospitals have been destroyed by Saudis?
A total of 413 health centers have been targeted by Saudi fighters, some of which are completely destroyed and some others have received minor damages. The perpetrators deliberately bombarded a diarrhea center in Sa’ada province which clearly shows the degree of crime and brutality.
How do you evaluate the humanitarian assistance provided to Yemen? What are the barriers to the delivery of humanitarian aid?
The United Nations humanitarian coordinator in Yemen and in New York has called for humanitarian relief, but as long as his wishes are not responded to, no benefit will be gained and no life will be saved. As we have heard, only 30% of his requests have been met.
The World Health Organization and UNICEF are working to provide support as much as their available facilities allow. Another problem is the siege of the country, which includes both public and private sectors of Yemen, and these two sectors face numerous difficulties for imports of humanitarian aid. Deliveries of aid through Djibouti are delayed, and the previous donations reached the Yemeni province via Sanaa airport fifth week after spread of cholera, while cholera has no mercy to patients, and we are racing with time in this regard.
Have you presented these crimes of Saudis in international courts as a war crime? Why does the United Nations refuse to pay attention to these aggressive crimes?
Undoubtedly, targeting of health centers and medical centers is a war crime, but the world is silent against thousands of crimes taking place in Yemen. When Ban Ki-moon, the former UN Secretary-General, added Saudi Arabia to the list of countries killing children, he had to retreat from his fair position due to the pressure, threats and money of Saudis, so the silent of the world in the face of crimes against Yemen’s health system brings no wonder.
We hope countries who stand in the right position alongside Yemen will play a role in this regard, especially in view of the fact that these countries have more legal experts than Yemen, and hold great experiences in the fight against global arrogance that can assist Yemenis in preparing a case against war crimes of aggressors.
What is the situation of Yemen’s medical staff?
I am grateful of the resistance of the medical staff in Yemen, which comprises over 30,000 employees who have not received salaries in the past nine months. Despite hardships and difficulties, these physicians resist and stand against the enemy.
The reason for not paying salaries of doctors is that the Central Bank of Yemen has been transferred to Aden since 9 months ago leading to seizure of 400 billion Yemeni rials. The United Nations also conspired in this regard through its representative in Yemen, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed.
The organization committed itself to pay salaries through the central bank, and for the same reason, the UN was put in charge of the medical staff’s income. However, the organization not only ignores this blatant crime against employees and their families, but also falsely claims that salaries are being paid through the central bank transferred to Aden, and thus misleads the international community through its representative.
How do you assess actions of Iran and Islamic countries against killing of innocent people in Yemen?
In this regard, I need to answer as a Yemeni citizen because the Yemeni government itself has a spokesperson. Yemeni people thank the Leaders of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Khamenei for his support of them.
In his religious and political speeches, Iran’s Leader deals with oppression of Yemeni people. In the media and politics, Iran takes the position to support people of Yemen, and all Iranian media serve the Yemeni people and their oppression, but we need to raise the issue of Yemen in international circles, for example, we would like Iran to hold a conference on humanitarian issue and health situation in Yemen which is in danger of collapse or to call for a Security Council meeting to review the health case and human dimension in Yemen. To this end, Iran can rely on statements of the current Secretary-General of the United Nations who said Yemen has turned into the greatest human tragedy on earth.
We want Iran to take action on the position of the Secretary-General and hold a special session on Yemen so that a resolution to stop invasion in our country is issued. According to the World Health Organization, war is the main cause of spread of cholera in any country. The organization has also stated that cholera in Yemen is the most dangerous type of disease in the world which has not been around since World War II. No one will hear our voice, but your voice will be heard in the international community.
In the end, do you think election of Mohammed bin Salman as the crown prince of Saudi Arabia will have an effect on the aggression process in Yemen, and what is the achievement of the Yemeni people after two years of resistance against Saudis?
Mohammed bin Salman was the one who launched the attack on Yemen on March 26, 2015 and after a month he was elected as successor to the crown prince and he himself is now the crown prince, but nothing has changed in the field. Everyone is aware of the issue and an American official also acknowledged that the Saudis demanded 10 days to conquer Yemen, 7 days for air strikes, and 3 days for the military to enter Sanaa through land. Nevertheless, we have accomplished more than 830 days of historical resistance while the richest country in the world, along with 17 other countries have attacked Yemen which is the poorest country on earth.
Interview by: Mohammad Fatemizadeh