Bombs have stopped in Yemen, but children are still being denied lives

While many in the international community are celebrating, some families in Yemen are left to watch their children slowly die.

About 30,000 people with life-threatening illnesses need treatment abroad, according to the Houthi-controlled government in the capital Sana’a. About 5,000 of them are children. The truce has allowed patients to be flown out of the country, but it mostly works for families who can afford treatment abroad. Thanks to devastating consequences of war and the humanitarian crisis it caused, once described by the UN as world sausage — most can’t.
For the past seven years, a Saudi-led coalition has tried to crush the Iranian-backed Houthis after the group, also known as Ansarullah, toppled the internationally recognized government. The war led to long-term fuel blockade imposed by the coalition and backed by the United States.

That support — and broader U.S. support for military action in Yemen — is currently being challenged in a military powers resolution introduced by U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders. The blockade, import restrictions and high inflation are hurting Yemen’s healthcare system and economy.

Only 24 out of 36 ships carrying fuel have been allowed by the coalition to enter the port of Hodeidah on the Red Sea since the April 2 truce. It was a long-awaited fuel for both the economy and the work of medical institutions. – but still below what the UN says is enough “to support essential services”.

But beyond the statistics, here are some lives that have been affected by this reality.

In September, Ranim Alkhalid will turn two years old. She was born with Down syndrome.

“She is an angel sent to us. I have four more children, and she – my youngest – belongs to my heart, ”says her father Abdelrahman.

When Ranim began to suffer from shortness of breath, none of Yemen’s medical facilities were equipped to make a diagnosis. Fortunately, more than most children in the country, Ranim’s family was able to send her and her aunt to Cairo for treatment. There, she was diagnosed with weakness in the heart’s blood vessels, and her aunt was told she needed surgery to install a stent to keep them open and pumping blood.

The operation and associated costs totaled $10,000 and the date was set for June 6th. This was where the family’s luck ended. They had no money to pay, and the day of the operation came and went.

“We have lost too many children in the last seven years of the war,” Dr. Abdulrahman Alhadi, head of the Yemeni National Cancer Center, told CNN. “They were waiting for a mercy that never came.”

More than 300 children died in his center alone, waiting to go abroad for treatment. Dr. Alhadi sent CNN a video of one of his patients, five-year-old Mohammed Salman. Both Mohammed and his six-year-old brother were told they needed a stem cell transplant due to bone marrow failure caused by their hereditary aplastic anemia. His brother died five months ago, before the blockade was partially lifted. Now Mohammed is waiting alone.

“There is nothing harder for parents than to feel helpless when it comes to saving their children’s lives,” Aisha Juman told CNN.

Jumaan in the USA Yemen Relief and Recovery Fund is one of the few organizations trying to support families seeking medical treatment abroad. But the average cost of treating a child is $10,000. This will amount to approximately $50 million needed in total for children in need of life-saving treatment. This is an uphill battle to save lives that can only be won through a coordinated and systemic response to the Yemeni crisis.
The bombs have stopped but the preventable deaths in Yemen will not stop until the blockade is completely lifted and the economic collapse caused by the war is reversed. At the moment, the only thing that brings joy to Ranim and her family is music.

“When I start playing the nursery rhymes that she loves, she doesn’t even notice the pain,” her father says. “When she laughs and sings, it seems that everything around us is a song. She is an angel and I would give my life to have her with us.”

To contribute to efforts to help Yemeni children with life-threatening illnesses, you can donate to the Yemen Relief and Reconstruction Fund at https://yemenfoundation.org/

Digest

Iran nuclear talks to resume in Vienna this week

Senior Iranian, European and US officials were scheduled to resume nuclear talks in Vienna on Friday as Iran continues to increase its uranium levels and accelerate its nuclear program.

  • Background: Iran sent negotiators to Vienna on Wednesday, the Iranian Foreign Ministry said in response to a proposal put forward by senior EU diplomat Josep Borrell. US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken backed the EU proposal in comments on Monday, saying the United States is “ready to move forward based on what has been agreed” but it’s not clear if Iran is ready to do the same. A senior administration official told CNN on Wednesday that U.S. special envoy for Iran Rob Malley will also travel to Vienna for a new round of talks to try to salvage the nuclear deal, though the administration is not counting on final talks.
  • Why is it important: Numerous rounds of indirect talks aimed at resurrecting a nuclear deal between world powers have so far failed, and hopes for an agreement are fading. Meanwhile, Iran continues to accelerate its nuclear program, claiming that it has the ability to build a nuclear bomb, but has not yet dared to do so.

OPEC agrees to produce slightly more oil due to recession fears

The oil-exporting countries agreed on slight increase in production next month amid fears that a global recession will reduce demand.
  • Background: The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies – the group known as OPEC+, which includes Russia – on Wednesday announced a planned 100,000 bpd production increase in September. For months, OPEC+ has been trying to undo production cuts made during the pandemic, when demand for oil plummeted. In June, the cartel agreed to boost shipments to make up for falling Russian oil trade after the EU pledged to cut Russian oil imports by 90% by the end of the year. OPEC+ has agreed to increase production by 648,000 bpd in July and August. But according to a Reuters poll earlier this week, many countries have not delivered on their promises.
  • Why is it important: This was the first OPEC meeting since US President Joe Biden visited Saudi Arabia last month. Biden urged the country, which is the largest oil producer in the group, to increase production. Although production was expected to increase after Wednesday’s meeting, analysts say the announced increase is “a drop in the ocean.”

The temperature in Iraq reaches 50 degrees Celsius

People cool down near the Tigris River during hot weather in Baghdad, Iraq, August 4.

Baghdad, the Iraqi capital, recorded a high temperature of 49.5 degrees Celsius on Thursday, the equivalent of about 121 degrees Fahrenheit.

  • Background: In many places in Iraq on Thursday the temperature exceeded 50°C (122F), and the highest temperature of 52.6°C (127F) was recorded in Basra Hussen. Baghdad has been sweltering this summer with high temperatures above 42 degrees Celsius (108 degrees Fahrenheit) for more than a month. Over the past four days, temperatures have topped 49 degrees Celsius (120 degrees Fahrenheit).
  • Why is it important: Some relief is expected in the coming days as high temperatures are predicted to rise to nearly 50°C over the weekend in Baghdad. Temperatures at this level are of great concern for heat-related illnesses, especially for those without access to water, adequate shelter, and air conditioning.

What to watch

US officials expected the oil-exporting countries to approve a much larger increase in output at their August meeting. That same week, the US approved a possible multi-billion dollar arms sale to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

CNN’s Eleni Giokos talks with OPEC’s chief correspondent at Energy Intelligence Amena Bakr and Arab News editor-in-chief Faisal Abbas about the significance of the two events.

See the report here:

By region

An already important year for football in the Middle East has grown even bigger as Saudi Arabia has expressed interest in hosting the 2026 Asian Women’s Cup.

The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) announced on Monday that Saudi Arabia had expressed interest in hosting the tournament for the first time.

Kingdom women’s soccer team played their first match in February of this year was against the Seychelles, which ended 2-0 to Saudi Arabia.

In response to the news, the Saudi Arabia Women’s Football Federation tweeted: “We aim to host the biggest women’s tournament on the Asian continent in 2026.”

The AFC said it will now start working on receiving applications from all interested countries, with a decision to be made in 2023.

Women’s football has reached new global heights this year. Hosted by eventual winners England, the Women’s Euro 2022 attracted record crowds. The tournament’s total attendance exceeded 570,000, more than double the record set in 2017 with 87,192 fans attending the final at Wembley, a new record for a women’s international match in Europe.

Mohammed Abdelbari

Photo of the day

Marching band members dressed in ancient Egyptian clothing perform before the Pyramids 2022 air show at the Giza Pyramid Necropolis, on the southwestern outskirts of Egypt's capital Cairo, August 3.