- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 30, 2020

Yemen on Thursday reported its two coronavirus-related deaths as experts and officials warn that the war-torn country could be devastated by the impacts of the virus within its borders.

Yemen has reported just six confirmed cases of COVID-19, according to the Johns Hopkins University tracker, and one recovery. Officials on Wednesday upped the count from previous reports of just one infection.

Local sources told the BBC the two deaths are believed to be brothers who died in Yemen’s capital city of Aden.

Earlier this month, U.S. officials announced preparations for a “substantial” aid package to help Yemen in their fight against the coronavirus, but it may be forced to circumvent the World Health Organization after President Trump vowed to freeze funding to the United Nations-backed agency over its handling of the outbreak.

Yemen has been trapped in a devastating five-year-long civil war that has decimated the country’s infrastructure and killed more than 100,000, sparking a humanitarian crisis.

The U.N. has warned recently that there is a “very real probability” that the virus could be spreading undetected among local communities due to inadequate testing resources.

The Saudi-led coalition in Yemen earlier this month unilaterally declared a ceasefire in an effort to support U.N. and global measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus in the country and ultimately broker a peace agreement.

But the Houthi rebels have launched coalition airstrikes and ground fighting after dismissing the efforts.

The International Rescue Committee’s Yemen Director Tamuna Sabadze on Wednesday warned the country is “on the brink of catastrophe” with increased fighting in the face of a pandemic.

She called on international actors such as the U.S., United Kingdom and France to “push those responsible for the escalation in fighting to commit to a nationwide cease-fire and return to political negotiations to end the war.”

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