Issued by CEMO Center - Paris
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Houthis and corona: Mullahs’ other face in dealing with global pandemic

Friday 22/May/2020 - 03:07 PM
The Reference
Nora Bandari


The Houthi militia in Yemen has been following Iran’s approach in dealing with the corona virus, including obscuring the numbers of infected people and the methods of burying those who have died, including using the pandemic for economic and political gains internationally.


Houthi blackout

Like Iran, the Houthis have had a blackout policy since the beginning of the pandemic and does not disclose the true numbers of people infected with the virus, which prompted the Yemeni government to condemn the coup militia and ask the international community to press the Houthis to disclose the number of casualties before the pandemic spreads throughout Yemeni society and cannot be controlled. 

The government statement, published by the Yemeni media on May 17, stated that field reports indicate that the incidence of corona infections in the Houthi-controlled areas is high. The World Health Organization (WHO) was also asked to announce its data regarding infection cases in the Houthi-controlled areas.

Meanwhile, Yemeni doctors working in Houthi areas issued a statement warning against the Houthi blackout and called on health officials in the capital Sanaa to be transparent and take preventive measures to confront the corona virus and provide means of personal protection for the health staff dealing with patients directly.


Doctors arrested

As a result, the Houthis arrested and threatened a number of doctors protesting the militia’s actions concealment of the virus’s spread in Sanaa, forcing doctors to write a pledge not to disclose any information about the number of cases, according to the Yemeni news website Al-Masdar Online. This led to health organizations in Sanaa refusing to comment or provide numbers on the number of cases for fear of Houthi retaliation.

On May 17, the Iranian-backed militia bombed medical camps dealing with the corona pandemic in the Qaniya area between the governorates of Ma'rib and Al-Bayda in central Yemen, which resulted in injuries, and the checkpoint was also severely damaged, according to a statement from the Public Health and Population Office in Ma'rib.

The statement noted that this is a criminal attempt by the Houthis to use the corona pandemic in its war against the Yemeni people, as well as to stop the humanitarian role of medical crews examining those traveling from Houthi areas that are witnessing a major outbreak of the virus, despite the blackout of its spread. The doctors demanded the United Nations investigate this as a terrorist crime.

According to the doctors, the number of infected in Houthi areas amounted to about 1,400, with about 300 deaths, until May 17, and they fear the number of cases will increase by June. WHO announced that half of Yemen's population of 30 million could be infected and more than 40,000 people could die from the virus, mainly due to the weakness of the Yemeni health sector and the blackout policy, which results in citizens not committing to preventive measures.

On May 13, the Yemeni government announced that 70 people had been infected with the corona virus since April 10, including 12 deaths and one recovery, while the Houthis had only recognized two cases, the death of a Somali immigrant and someone infected coming from Aden.

Yemeni Human Rights Minister Mohammed Askar said in press statements that the Houthi militia is censuring those infected with the corona virus in Hodeidah Governorate in western Yemen and a number of governorates under its control, stressing that the militia’s failure to disclose the true numbers of those infected is a crime against humanity. He called on the international community to intervene to confront the terrorist group.


Economic and political card

The coup militia is using the virus as a political card to blackmail the international community. Yemeni Foreign Minister Mohammed Abdullah Al-Hadrami pointed out on Twitter that the terrorist militia is politicizing the corona crisis in Yemen and does not want to report cases in the areas under its control so that they will not be blamed, despite the frequent reports of the spread of the virus.

The Houthis are also using the pandemic as an economic card to provide its needed funds, especially since the Iranian regime, which had been providing them with all means of support, is suffering its own financial crisis due to the country’s poor economic conditions. Therefore, the Houthi militia continues to violate civilians throughout Yemen with the aim of stealing their money.

The terrorist militia recently plundered aid provided by merchants and businessmen to the poor during the month of Ramadan, and they also deployed in Yemen’s streets to rob money from car owners, all to support its war efforts and enrich its leaders.

The Houthis also closed dozens of shopping centers under the pretext of preventive measures to counter the corona outbreak, only to reopen them again a few days later after being paid millions of riyals from new royalties that were imposed in the name of a fundraising campaign to tackle the virus.