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Yemen: UN extremely concerned by rapid spread of COVID-19

22 May 2020


In Abyan, Yemen, families displaced by insecurity collect basic hygiene kits. Credit: UNICEF

The United Nations said today it is extremely concerned by the rapid spread of COVID-19 across Yemen.

Epidemiologists had already predicted that COVID-19 would spread faster, more widely, and with deadlier consequences in Yemen than many other places. There is now every reason to believe this is already happening, with community transmission under way undetected, and unmitigated in many places.

Similarly distressing reports are being heard from across the country, north and south. These reports are coming from all directions, including local and international media, affected families, doctors and others.

With severe shortages in testing supplies, official case reports far under-count actual infections. This has also occurred in other countries without adequate tests.


There will be a pledging event on 2 June, where it is hoped that donors will pledge generously. It is also hoped that those pledges will be promptly paid.

With current funds, many of the most important programmes will start closing in the next several weeks.

The UN has called on the authorities in the north and south to do everything possible to suppress the spread of COVID-19. This includes transparency in reporting all cases, clear and factual public information campaigns, implementation of appropriate social-distancing protocols and other measures.

The UN is eager to work with the authorities in doing all it can to contain the spread of the virus as much as possible. 

It is also necessary to have adequate funding to support COVID-19 rapid response teams, procure more personal protective equipment for health workers, or even pay health workers minimal compensation for risking their lives.