Doctors plead for conjoined twins to leave Yemen for treatment

Flights have been banned to and from Sanaa airport by the Saudi-led coalition at war with Houthi rebels.

    Abdul Khaleq and Abdul Rahim share a liver, as well as two kidneys, two legs and two arms [Khaled Abdullah/Reuters]
    Abdul Khaleq and Abdul Rahim share a liver, as well as two kidneys, two legs and two arms [Khaled Abdullah/Reuters]

    Yemeni doctors have appealed to the United Nations to help arrange the evacuation of conjoined twins saying they will "not be able to survive" unless they receive urgent medical treatment.

    According to medics, Abdul Khaleq and Abdul Rahim, who are being helped to breathe in an incubator, have separate heads, spines, lungs, hearts and digestive systems, but share a liver, as well as two kidneys, two legs and two arms.

    "I hope that they can be transported abroad as soon as possible," said doctor Faisal al-Babili, the head of the paediatrics department at the Al-Thawra hospital in Sanaa.

    Babili told the Reuters news agency that medics were not able to perform even basic diagnostic tests such as an MRI scan in Yemen, and certainly did not have the capabilities to separate them, if needed.

    "They will not be able to survive in Yemen under the social, political and economic circumstances in this country," he said.

    Yemen's conflict has brought its healthcare system to its knees with many hospitals unable to help patients due to a lack of appropriate medicine and damage to equipment caused by Saudi-led coalition air attacks.

    The coalition has banned flights to Yemen's capital Sanaa following missile attacks on neighbouring Saudi Arabia.

    'Open airport for humanitarian cases'

    On Thursday, the head of Saudi Arabia's King Salman Aid and Relief Centre said he had a team that was prepared to treat them, the official Saudi Press Agency reported.

    However, hostility to Saudi Arabia runs high in rebel-held areas that have been hit hard by coalition air raids, while the coalition has granted few exemptions from its long-running blockade of Sanaa airport.

    The Houthis urged the UN to work on "reopening the airport to patients and humanitarian cases immediately," rebel media said.

    The four-year war and ensuing economic collapse have unleashed the world's most urgent humanitarian crisis with 14 million of its 29 million population staring at starvation.

    Food prices have increased by an average of 68 percent, and the price of commodities such as petrol, diesel and cooking gas have increased by at least 25 percent in the past year.

    According to recent estimates, as many as 85,000 children may have died from hunger since the coalition's intervention.

    Doctors at al-Thawra hospital are unable to carry out basic diagnostic tests [Khaled Abdullah/Reuters]

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies