Conflict snuffs life out of Al Mokha
Yemeni fighters secure a building in Al Mokha where the UAE Red Crescent distributes aid to displaced people. - Reuters
Al Mokha (Yemen) - Plastic water bottles are being used as serum injection bags in the facility hit by shortages of medical supplies.
It took Seham Ali Ibrahim one month to make the dangerous journey from her village near the frontline town of Al Heiss to the relative safety of Yemen's western coast areas, often travelling by foot across battle lines.
Now, she lives in a straw hut with three other families, including nine children, outside Al Mokha where many displaced Yemenis have built makeshift shelters and rely on aid provided by humanitarian organisations and anti-Houthi coalition forces.
"We walked ... We rode donkeys and cars ... We made it to Al Mokha in a month," said the elderly Ibrahim, who does not know her exact age.
Yemen has been devastated by three years of conflict in which President Abd-Rabu Mansour Hadi's government, backed by the Saudi-led Arab coalition, is fighting to drive the Houthis out of cities they seized in a series of operations since 2014.
Al Mokha, located some 75 kms north of the strategic Bab Al Mandab strait, and neighbouring Al Khoukha and Al Heiss are among the few towns conceded by Houthi fighters since Yemen's civil war started in 2015 after the armed group forced Hadi into exile in Saudi Arabia.
"At least 40,000 have been displaced in recent weeks," Eshrak Al Soubai, Yemen's deputy health minister, told Reuters.
"Most displaced people are coming from the areas of fighting in Al Heiss district (some 90 kms away) ... the situation is very critical," she said during a visit to Al Mokha hospital, the only medical facility in the coalition-controlled western coast.
Last month, the United Nations said at least 85,000 Yemenis had left their homes in the area since fresh fighting erupted in December 2017.
Doctors and medical staff at Al Mokha hospital are struggling on a daily basis to provide aid and treatment for victims of the war and diseases.
Haynam Salem, 40, lay in pain on an old examination table in a dusty room in the civilian wing of Al Mokha hospital after losing her five-month-old foetus shortly upon arriving in the town with her children from Al Hameli village in Taiz province.
Plastic water bottles are being used as serum injection bags in the facility hit by shortages of medical supplies.
"The procedure to take the dead foetus out of her womb is not very complicated, but I am waiting to get some blood and I need at least two pounds," said Abderrahim Al Dhabi, a doctor working with the World Health Organisation and the Arab coalition. "Hopefully, tomorrow I will get some."
Nurses said the hospital lacks basic primary care, including a maternity doctor, and that they hadn't been paid for five months. "We asked the coalition for help, we asked international organisations but nobody seems to care," said Maymouna Ali Ahmed, chief nurse in charge of maternity care at the facility.
Outside the hospital, sand storms swept the main unpaved street of the town, with thousands of used plastic bags covering the bushes and other desert vegetation.
The local power plant has started to run again but is producing only five megawatts (MW), far below its capacity of 160 MW produced before the war.
Displaced Yemenis are not the only ones relying on aid.
Workers at the power plant said the managing director of the plant paid them in cash on a monthly basis, but that for the last year their pay had been slashed to 24,000 Yemeni riyals (around $40) down from 60,000 riyals. Fishing, the main source of income for the majority of local residents, remains subject to approval from coalition forces. Several fishermen told they were allowed to sail only once or twice a week.
'Situation is getting worse by the day'>Al Mokha, Bab Al Mandab strait, Al Khoukha and Al Heiss are among the few towns conceded by Houthi fighters since Yemen's civil war started in 2015
>The situation in the only medical facility is very critical.
>Doctors and medical staff are struggling on a daily basis to provide aid and treatment for victims of the war and diseases.
>Plastic water bottles are being used as serum injection bags in the facility hit by shortages of medical supplies.
>Hospital lacks basic care, including a maternity doctor.
>The staff has not been paid for five months.
>The lone power plant is producing only five megawatts of power
>Fishing, the main source of income for the majority of local residents, remains subject to approval from coalition forces