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War-hit Yemen blood bank signals SOS from brink of closure

DUBAI

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 Centre 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 severe 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 Ansar Allah rebels, who control Sanaa, and a government allied with a 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 — the Arab world’s poorest state for long — 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 Organisation (WHO).

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

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

Agence France-Presse