Yemen (MNN) – COVID-19 cases are rising in Yemen, where 80-percent of the population depends on humanitarian aid to survive another day. Nathaniel*, a Christian worker focused on Yemen, says a coronavirus outbreak would be devastating.
According to Reuters, most of Yemen’s reported COVID-19 infections were discovered within the last ten days; health experts say this indicates community transmission. At the same time, the World Health Organization is closing dozens of its major health programs over the coming weeks.
Along with 24 million Yemenis requiring humanitarian aid to survive, “[15.9] million of the people in Yemen are already suffering from hunger [and] you’ve got five years of civil war that has ravaged the country,” Nathaniel explains.
“All of [these conditions] set it up to be a potentially catastrophic situation when you layer COVID-19 on top of it.”
Arabian Peninsula vs. COVID-19
At press time, the number of COVID-19 cases in Yemen stood at a mere 128 with only 20 deaths. On Thursday, an NGO worker in southern Yemen warned of underreporting and described these conditions to BBC News:
Our teams on the ground are seeing how people are being sent away from hospitals, breathing heavily or even collapsing. People are dying because they can’t get the treatment that would normally save their lives. There are patients who go from hospital to hospital and yet cannot get admitted.
“You’ve got hospitals that are closed that have been damaged by the war; you’ve got people dying that can’t even get treatment,” Nathaniel adds. “There are only 500 ventilators in the entire country, and only four labs that can that can even test for the virus.” More about facilities and resources here.
Yemen isn’t the only country struggling to contain COVID-19.
“The peoples of the Arabian Peninsula have been hit extremely hard and are suffering greatly as a result of the virus,” Nathaniel says.
“Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait — these countries are reporting significant numbers, in terms of positive tests and even deaths relative to the total population.”
Coronavirus prevalence in Saudi Arabia is prompting officials to reinstate restrictions, even during Ramadan – one of Islam’s most significant rituals. Face masks recently became mandatory in Qatar and Kuwait; yesterday, Bahrain’s COVID-19 caseload rose by 200.
How to help
Now that you know, how will you respond? Pray this difficult season would cause people of different faiths to seek and encounter Christ. Islam started in the Arabian Peninsula in the seventh century and quickly became the region’s dominant religion.
“Pray for all the people in the AP; just pray for the Lord’s mercy to bring a halt to the spread of this virus… it’s going to take supernatural mercy,” Nathaniel says.
“Pray believers will stay strong in their faith, trusting in the Word of God and His promises. It’s so hard not to be shaken by the situation and circumstances around us.”
Use the prompts listed alongside this article to pray specifically for Yemen and the Arabian Peninsula. Pray globally using this Prayercast special.
*– Name changed for security purposes.
Header image is a representative stock photo obtained via Pixabay.