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The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Yemen receives first coronavirus vaccines: UN

Yemen has recorded over 800 deaths [Getty]

Date of publication: 31 March, 2021

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Yemen will receive its first shipment of Covid-19 vaccines from the UN, as the country struggles under the weight of infections.

War-torn Yemen received the first shipment of Covid-19 vaccines on Wednesday, the UN children's agency said, a week after the country's coronavirus committee warned of a public health "emergency".

The AstraZeneca doses arrived in the southern port city of Aden, Yemen's de facto capital, where the internationally recognised government is based after being routed from Sanaa in the north by Houthi rebels.

"Yemen received 360,000 Covid-19 vaccine doses shipped via the Covax facility," UNICEF said in a statement, referring to the World Health Organization-backed scheme to provide jabs to countries in need.

"This first batch is part of 1.9 million doses that Yemen will initially receive throughout 2021," it added.

Last week Yemen's coronavirus committee urged the government to declare a public health "state of emergency" amid a surge in infections.

Doctors Without Borders (MSF) had also warned the number of critically Covid-19 patients was rising across the country, urging assistance from donor countries and specialised groups.

Yemen has officially recorded more than 4,000 virus cases among its 30 million people, including 863 deaths -- but experts say the real toll is likely higher.

The country has been mired in a disastrous war for over six years which has left it on the brink of famine. Its healthcare system is in ruins.

Read more: Can European arms companies be held liable for war crimes in Yemen?

A Saudi-led military coalition intervened in 2015 to shore up the government, and since then the conflict has killed tens of thousands of people, mostly civilians, and displaced millions.

The United Nations calls the situation there the world's worst humanitarian crisis.

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