First Published: 2017-08-12

Yemen blood bank sends out urgent appeal over imminent closure
Yemen's national blood bank treats some 3,000 Yemenis a month, but war and blockade on Sanaa may force it to close within one week.
Middle East Online

Man donates blood at the National Blood Transfusion and Research Center in Sanaa, Yemen.

SANAA - Yemen's blood bank has sent out an urgent appeal to anyone who will listen, as war and a blockade on the capital may force the centre to close within a week.

"We appeal to all humanitarian organisations in the international community and all financial donors to support the centre, as our medical supplies have nearly run out," said Adnan al-Hakimi, director of the National Blood Transfusion and Research Center in Sanaa.

"We will only be able to work for one more week, and after that if the humanitarian organisations don't mobilise to support the national centre, it will shut down."

The blood bank says it treats some 3,000 Yemenis a month who suffer from cancer, kidney failure and thalassaemia, an inherited blood disorder which causes sever anaemia.

But a trifecta of war, disease and famine has left the bank struggling to keep up with spiralling demand, with basic supplies all but impossible to secure in a country locked in by port and airport blockades.

"We've been impacted by the overall situation in Yemen, including the economic collapse," Hakimi said.

Less than half of Yemen's hospitals are still up and running two years into a war between Iran-backed Shiite Huthi rebels, who control Sanaa, and a government allied with a Sunni Arab military coalition led by Saudi Arabia.

The country's main international airport in Sanaa is also blockaded, with access limited to a select few UN aid flights by the Saudi-led coalition, which controls the airspace.

The war has destroyed much of Yemen's infrastructure and pushed the country -- long the Arab world's poorest state -- to the brink of official famine.

More than 8,300 people have died in the conflict, with another 47,700 injured and millions displaced, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

A cholera outbreak has also claimed the lives of some 2,000 Yemenis in less than four months.

- 'Switch support to other priorities' -

Amina Ali, whose young son has a condition that requires blood transfusions, makes the trip to the centre regularly for blood and platelets.

Now, she says, she fears those trips are numbered.

"I order blood and platelets for my son every 10 days from the centre," she said.

"What if it shuts down? Many children will get worse, including my son."

Hakimi said the international medical charity Doctors Without Borders (MSF) had been providing supplies to the bank since 2015 but "surprisingly suddenly stopped" in June.

In a statement emailed to AFP, MSF confirmed it has been supporting the blood bank for two years and only handed over the activity to the UN's WHO in June 2017.

"As health needs have been increasing in Yemen, MSF chose to switch its support to other health priorities," the group said.

"The last donation MSF gave to the blood bank was in June 2017. That donation was to support the running of its activities for 2 months, giving the time for WHO to start its support."

Like MSF, the United Nations has warned it has been forced to divert resources from one community to aid another -- most recently, from food programmes to handle the escalating cholera outbreak.

The United Nations has said that less than half of the $2.1 billion pledged this year to Yemen by the international community has been disbursed.

But despite the dwindling hope, Yemenis refuse to give up on others in need.

"I am here to donate blood as an act of charity and for my country," said Abdullah Farei, one of a handful of citizens who turned up at the centre to donate blood.

"We ask God that the citizens respond to the call of the blood bank and donate blood and money."

 

Lebanese army launches anti-IS offensive on Syria border

Israel freezes implementation of settlement law

Erdogan meddles in German politics

UN demands access to Yemen ports

Civilians stay on frontlines despite dangers in Raqa

Low-cost attacks a new reality for Europeans

Forces of Libya's Haftar say commander wanted by ICC in detention

Yemen rebels urged to free political commentator

Iranian footballer breaks silence over ban for playing Israelis

IS fighters almost encircled in Syrian desert

For Israel, White House ties trump neo-Nazis and antisemitism

Saudi Arabia installing cranes at Yemen ports

13 dead, 100 injured in two Spanish seaside city attacks

Iran reform leader ends hunger strike

Van ploughs through pedestrians in Barcelona terror attack

13 killed in Barcelona van attack

Iraq acknowledges abuses in Mosul campaign

Netanyahu under fire for response to US neo-Nazism

Israel to free high-profile suspects in money laundering probe

Spanish police shut down jet-ski migrant smugglers

Syrian actress, activist Fadwa Suleiman dies in Paris

Israeli court extends detention for Islamic cleric over ‘incitement’

UAE to provide $15 million a month to Gaza

Sudan's Bashir 'satisfied' with Nile dam project

US-backed rebels say American presence in Syria to last ‘decades’

Tunisian clerics oppose equal inheritance rights for women

Israel strikes almost 100 Hezbollah arms convoys in 5 years

UN hopes for eighth round of Syria talks before year’s end

LONG READ: How Syria continues to evade chemical weapons justice

Civilians killed in US-led raids on Raqa

Qatari pilgrims begin flooding into Saudi by land

Turkey arrests 9 more journalists for alleged ‘Gulen links’

Iran’s Karroubi on hunger strike over 6-year house arrest

Saudi Arabia to restart work on Grand Mosque expansion

Algeria reshuffles cabinet, nominates three new ministers

Syria rebels lose heavyweight faction

ICC orders Mali ex-jihadist pay 2.7 m euros for Timbuktu destruction

Libya seeks to ‘organise’ NGOs carrying migrant rescue Ops

More than one million South Sudan refugees in Uganda

Beirut, Damascus pledge to boost economic ties

Two killed on Gaza-Egypt border

Qataris to do hajj on Saudi king expenses

Fire breaks out at UNESCO heritage site in Saudi Arabia

Iran military chief in Turkey for talks on Syrian war

Saudi Electricity announces $1.75b in international loans