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Pro-Houthi Official Accused of Withholding Medications in Hodeidah | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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A ship is docked at the Red Sea port of Hodeidah, Yemen, March 23, 2017. REUTERS/Abduljabbar Zeyad

Riyadh – As the World Health Organization (WHO) announced that Yemen’s cholera outbreak was far from being over, Houthi militias continued to withhold three vehicles loaded with cholera medications for the fourth day in a row in the province of Hodeidah, west of Yemen.

Yemeni Minister of Local Administration and Chairman of the Higher Committee for Relief Abdul-Raqib Saif Fateh strongly condemned Houthi and Saleh insurgents for withholding the three trucks. He told Saba News Agency that residents of Hodeidah can no longer endure the violations preventing medications from reaching those in need, especially with the rapidly growing outbreak of the disease in several districts.

The minister held the insurgents responsible for the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Yemen and contributing to the outbreak of cholera, especially after they began selling the medicines in the black market and withholding aid trucks.

Fateh pointed out that all medication provided are distributed for free.

Local media outlets confirmed that Hodeidah customs director, appointed by Houthi militias, Abdul Rahman al-Nashad is withholding aid medicines and insists on imposing customs duties on them, rejecting orders to facilitate their entrance.

Yemeni political author Hamdan al-Ali accused Houthi militias of being the primary cause of the cholera outbreak in the country and its spread. He added that in advanced stages, Houthis didn’t honor their duties to distribute special treatments to the ill.

Ali said that this behavior is not strange given that Houthis withheld humanitarian and medical aid vehicles several times before. He added that insurgents don’t care about civilians’ lives and treat them as hostages to pressure the international community and legitimate government to execute their demands and accept them in their current form.

World Health Organization (WHO) spokeswoman Fadela al-Chaib said in a press briefing in Geneva that from 27 April to 19 July 2017, 368,207 suspected cholera cases and 1,828 deaths had been reported in 91.3 percent of Yemen’s governorates and 88.6 percent of districts.

“The rainy season had just started and might increase the pace of transmission. Sustained efforts were required to stop the progression of the disease,” added Chaib.

Medical experts confirmed that medicines held on board convoys of vehicles in the customs yard are being exposed to the sun which means they have probably been damaged and no longer valid for medical use.

They warned that maximum one-day exposure to the sun in the very high temperature of Hodeidah during the summer is enough to destroy them, while these shipments have been detained for four days so far.

Other sources also revealed that Hodeidah customs director is part the corruption process that involves local pharmacological corporation. They take advantage of the fact that there are no customs on cholera medicines. They would import large numbers and then sell them on the black market at high prices.

“Houthis are used to taking advantage of the humanitarian situation to achieve their personal agenda,” according to the sources who preferred to remain anonymous.