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Preventable diseases claiming lives in Taiz amid Houthi siege Open in fullscreen

The New Arab

Preventable diseases claiming lives in Taiz amid Houthi siege

Taiz city has besieged by Houthi militants for over a year [AFP]

Date of publication: 12 April, 2017

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Large areas of the city, which has a population of over 2.8 million, have been besieged by Houthi militants for over a year.

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Yemen, Taiz, UN, OCHA,
Civilians in Yemen's southwestern city of Taiz are still dying from preventable diseases amid continued restrictions on humanitarian access, the United Nations warned this week.

Large areas of the city, which has a population of over 2.8 million, have been besieged by Houthi militants for over a year.

According to the UN's Humanitarian Coordinator in Yemen, Jamie McGoldrick, the city has seen some improvement, however is still seriously lacking in adequate healthcare facilities and supplies.

"Compared to the last time I was in the city, over nine months ago – and in spite of its current status as an active conflict zone – markets seemed busier with more people, more vehicles were on the roads and many more shops and restaurants were open," he said in a statement.

According to McGoldrick, health workers had reported an improvement in the city's situation, owing to a reduction in fighting. This has allowed some partially-functioning hospitals to conduct repair work.

"However," he warned, "they also stressed that lives are being lost to preventable diseases. Hospitals and feeding centres struggle to cope due to problems with salary payments, insufficient essential supplies, and lack of medicines. Increasing malnutrition rates, particularly in children, are worsening the already difficult humanitarian situation".

According to residents, Houthi fighters have been besieging the eastern and northern areas of the main city, although pro-government forces have partially broken the siege in the west.

The southern area of Taiz is mountainous, and many people remain trapped amid deteriorating humanitarian conditions - including the shutdown of hospitals and widespread economic collapse. 

The Houthi group say its fighters have not placed the city under siege; that they only combat the "[Islamic State group] militants and the mercenaries".

Over 3,400 civilians have died in Taiz over the past two years - and more than 16,000 have been injured, according to the city's health office.

On Tuesday, the UN warned that Yemen, among other countries in the Middle East and North Africa, is on the brink of mass starvation after over two years of war.

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