Human Rights Watch Accuses Houthis of Blocking Information on COVID-19

Republican Yemen

Human Rights Watch (HRW) accused on Tuesday the Iran-linked Houthi insurgents of blocking information and data on the outbreak of coronavirus as well as undermining international efforts to provide vaccines in areas under their control.

“Since the start of the pandemic in Yemen in April 2020, Houthi officials have actively spread disinformation about the virus and vaccines,” HRW said in a press release.

The New York-based rights group asserted that the Houthi rebels “have maintained a policy of withholding data on cases and deaths,” with no vaccines reaching areas under their control.

“The deliberate decision of the Houthi authorities to keep the real number of cases of COVID-19 under wraps and their opposition to vaccines are putting Yemeni lives at risk,” said Michael Page, HRW’s deputy Middle East director.

Undersecretary of Yemen’s Health Ministry, Ali Al Walidi, also confirmed in mid-May that the Houthi rebels refused to take the coronavirus vaccine.

WHO representative in Yemen, Dr. Adham Abdel-Moneim, said the vaccine campaign could not be carried out because the Houthis “stipulated that they must be distributed separately” from the supervision of WHO.

However, Reuters reported today that WHO will start COVID-19 vaccinations next week in areas under the control of Houthis.

The Health Ministry in Yemen’s internationally recognized government announced on May 26 the vaccination of 53587 people against the novel pandemic in areas under the control of the Yemeni government as a result of a coronavirus vaccination campaign that was initiated in Aden on April 20.

The campaign came three weeks following the arrival of a shipment of 360,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine from the United Nations-backed COVAX initiative.

Early this year,  2,316,000 doses of University of Oxford and AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines were allocated for war-torn Yemen to help mitigate the suffering of the Yemeni people who are vulnerable to diseases and are on the verge of famine due to the six-year devastating war.

*Writing by Sami Almaqtari

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