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Yemeni conjoined twins die following Sanaa blockade

The twins needed urgent medical treatment abroad [Getty]

Date of publication: 10 February, 2019

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Newborn Yemen twins have died in Sanaa, as the country's war takes two more lives.
Two-week old Yemeni conjoined twins have died in the blockaded capital, the health ministry in rebel controlled Sanaa reported on Sunday, after calls for urgent treatment overseas went unanswered.

Abdelkhaleq and Abdelrahim were born outside Sanaa around two weeks ago had seperate heads but a shared torso. 

"The ministry of... health announced on Sunday the death of the two children, after appeals to international organisations to quickly send a plane to transport them abroad," Houthi-affiliated Saba news agency reported.

Dr Faisal al-Babili, head of paedtratics at Sanaa's Al-Thawra hospital, said his department lacked the facilities to treat or separate the newborn boys.

He appealed this week for help from the international community to treat the twins.

The Houthi rebels blamed the Riyadh-led military coalition for the deaths, saying they "refusing to open Sanaa airport to allow them to get treatment". 

On Wednesday, the head of Saudi Arabia's King Salman Aid and Relief Centre, Abdullah al-Rabeeah, said he had a team that was prepared to treat them.

Rebel-held areas of Yemen have been subject to a blockade by a Saudi-led military coalition, which intervened in the war in March 2015 to support the government.

Fighting and blockades have led to health services collapsing and outbreaks of deadly diseases. 

Most hospitals are not equipped to provide specialist treatment for rare conditions with the only solution being to fly them out of the war-torn country. 

But this brings enormous logistical challenges due to an effective siege on rebel areas. 

NGOs are pushing for the reopening of Sanaa international airport and Hodeida port, but the Saudi-led coalition has accused the rebels of smuggling arms through the airport and Hodeida.

Riyadh has severely restricted flights to and from Sanaa. Shipments of aid through Hodeida have also been hindered by a Saudi-led naval force, leading to an explosion in hunger and disease. Houthis have also been accused of hindering aid access.

Since the Saudi-led coalition intervened in the war, at least 10,000 people have been killed and more than 60,000 have been wounded, according to the World Health Organisation.

Human rights groups say the real figure could be five times as high.

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