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Houthis Exploit Coronavirus Fears to Exacerbate Yemenis’ Suffering

Houthis Exploit Coronavirus Fears to Exacerbate Yemenis’ Suffering

Thursday, 19 March, 2020 - 12:15
Shoppers and pedestrians in a market in central Sanaa on Wednesday, March 18, 2020 (Reuters)

The Houthi militias are using fears of the new coronavirus as a pretext to exacerbate the suffering of Yemenis and suppress them in areas they run.

“It is no longer possible for me to visit my parents in Taiz after Houthis’ decision to suspend movement between the liberated areas and areas under their control," a Yemeni citizen residing in Sanaa told Asharq Al-Awsat.

“I used to travel 12 hours to reach the besieged city of Taiz. Now, after the group’s decision, we have become detainees in a large prison,” he added.

Another Sanaa resident said the issue has nothing to do with the militias’ concern for people’s safety, stressing that Houthis are politically exploiting concerns over the virus to improve their image.

The resident affirmed that the legitimate government has taken all necessary measures to prevent the spread of the pandemic in Yemen.

“If Houthis were concerned about people, they would have paid employees their salaries, stopped looting hospitals and medical humanitarian aid and took measures to stop the spread of other diseases such as cholera,” he noted.

Yemeni travelers in Aden confirm that the militias’ decision turned them into detainees and kept them away from their families.

Local sources accuse the group of turning checkpoints set between governorates and what Houthis describe as “quarantine zones” into new tools to blackmail travelers.

While Houthis claim that travelers are not allowed to to pass into areas under their control before a period of two weeks, people who arrived in Sanaa in the past two days said they paid money to Houthi officials to be allowed in.

Health sector workers in Sanaa believe the group is trying to present itself as an independent state in areas under its control to receive more UN aid.

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