TAIZ, Yemen, Feb. 14 (UPI) -- More than 23 tons of badly needed medical supplies were delivered to Taiz, where fighting and blockades have prevented residents from getting to doctors and hospitals for months at a time since last year.
The International Committee of the Red Cross was permitted to cross into the Yemeni city on February 13 for the first time since August 2015, delivering more than three tons of supplies. The World Health Organization brought more than 20 tons to the city after being blocked for the last eight weeks.
More than 200,000 people in Taiz have been under siege, living amid heavy fighting there since April 2015, with food and water also in short supply there.
Among the three tons of supplies the ICRC "breakthrough" are medical supplies, surgical items, intravenous fluids, and anasthetic supplies to treat people wounded by fighting in the city.
"This is a breakthrough and we hope that today's operation will be followed by many more to come," said Antoine Grand, head of the ICRC delegation in Yemen, in a press release. "All of these items are in high demand by the hospitals in Taiz that continue to receive a daily influx of wounded people."
The more than 20 tons of WHO supplies went to four hospitals in Taiz and included supplies for trauma kits, interagency emergency health kits, diarrhoeal disease kits, oxygen cylinders to treat around 35,000 patients, and dialysis solutions for one hospital to provide about 30,000 sessions for a year.
Aid to the city has been limited since April 2015 because of ongoing violence and insecurity, forcing hospitals to close and many people to be cut off from food, water, and the healthcare that has remained available.
The WHO said it also has delivered more than 40 additional tons of medicine and medical supplies to Sana'a airport which the agency plans to distribute around the country.
While many parts of Taiz have opened and received supplies, three districts are still inaccessible, according to the WHO. That is endangering the lives of Yemenis cut off from assistance and supplies.
"It is vital that WHO and partners are given unrestricted access to all people in need so that they can be urgently provided with life-saving healthcare," Dr. Ahmed Shadoul, the WHO representative in Yemen, said in a press release.