A health worker wearing a protective suit disinfects a market amid concerns of the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Sanaa, Yemen, April 28, 2020.
A health worker wearing a protective suit disinfects a market amid concerns of the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Sanaa, Yemen, April 28, 2020.

The World Health Organization has suspended its operations in the main Houthi-held areas of Yemen to pressure the rebel group to be more open about suspected coronavirus cases.

They include the Yemeni capital of Sana’a and Hodeidah, the country’s main port on the Red Sea.

The Yemeni government reports 51 COVID-19 cases and eight deaths in the parts of Yemen it controls.

But the WHO suspects the Houthis of withholding information about the coronavirus toll in places it controls, including the capital and other big cities.  

The Houthis report just two cases and one death and deny that it is covering up the true numbers. But the WHO says it is treating Yemen as if there is a full-blown COVID-19 outbreak.

WHO also says there are “credible threats and perceived risks” for its staff.  

Fighting between the Iranian-backed Houthis and the Saudi-backed government has created even more misery in Yemen – one of the poorest countries on earth.

The United Nations estimates 80% of the Yemeni population is at risk of starvation. 

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