There are roughly 98 million children in Yemen who are not receiving life-saving vaccines to protect them from illnesses such as measles and polio. This is a direct result of the warring parties’ failure to reach agreement over a donors’ agreement reached in December, which the UN Security Council approved in February.
But an e-mail sent to aid workers on Thursday and seen by the Times highlights a dramatic change in the government’s attitude. On Thursday, on his maiden speech to the Security Council, Yemen’s envoy to the United Nations, Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, called for countries “to find real solutions for life-saving humanitarian assistance to the people of Yemen.”
In a caption accompanying a photograph of the same message in English and Arabic, the Special Envoy’s office has, for the first time, provided a clear list of countries that have already agreed to provide the polio vaccines. Yemen currently has vaccination coverage of about 85 percent. But a total of 57 million children are still considered vulnerable, which is down from the 108 million who would be vaccinated in December.
At the time of the Security Council’s December resolution, Somalia, Libya, Mali, Yemen, Pakistan, Syria, South Sudan, Somalia, Democratic Republic of Congo, and South Sudan all shared a zero out of four score. But this latest email notice reads, “Since then, 16 other countries also signed and subscribed to the provisional documents on the IS-20/12 Financing Article.”
When the text was released on the Yemeni Security Council’s Telegram channel, many users lambasted the e-mail announcement on the internet:
The new Yemen Ambassador tells of “High-level Consultations at the Security Council HQ” — PR (@FardeyFardey) March 29, 2018
The e-mail is signed by Mohammed Al Kumaan, chief of staff at the Yemeni Ministries of Health and Communications. And the report itself comes as the two sides continue to trade accusations. On Thursday, Yemen’s government said that the Saudi-led Arab coalition that is supporting the government was behind shelling attacks on its city of Taiz, a known hub of anti-government demonstrations. It also accused Iran of providing weapons to the Houthi rebel group, which controls most of the country.