Saturday 23 February 2019

Conjoined twins die as evacuation appeals fail

 

Newly born conjoined twins Abdelkhaleq and Abdelkarim lie in an incubator in intensive care at al-Thawra hospital in Sanaa. Photo: Reuters
Newly born conjoined twins Abdelkhaleq and Abdelkarim lie in an incubator in intensive care at al-Thawra hospital in Sanaa. Photo: Reuters

Sara Elizabeth Williams

Conjoined twin boys born under blockade in Yemen nearly three weeks ago died at the weekend after attempts to secure their evacuation for potentially life-saving treatment failed.

The health ministry said the twins' deaths reflected the humanitarian situation faced by Yemen's children as a result of the civil war, according to a statement carried by the Houthi-run Saba news.

Abdelkhaleq and Abdelkarim were born in Houthi-controlled Sanaa, at a hospital woefully under-equipped after years of bombardment and blockade by the Saudi-led coalition.

The tiny boys had separate heads, spines, lungs and hearts, but they shared a liver, reproductive organs and a pair of kidneys, arms and legs between them.

The twins' doctors had begged for them to be evacuated to a hospital equipped to give them life-saving treatment.

However, Yemen's airspace is controlled by the Saudi-led coalition and, following Houthi missile attacks on Saudi Arabia, no civilian flights have taken off from Sanaa since 2015. The only flights permitted in and out are those operated by the United Nations.

Despite offers from a Saudi organisation to provide the needed medical care, no way around the blockade was found.

Since the war broke out between Houthi rebels and the Yemeni government in 2015, doctors in the country have reported a general rise in birth defects.

The UN has warned that about half of Yemen's 28 million people are living on the brink of famine.

Irish Independent

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