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Hadramout: Weak Response of Authorities and Locals Fear Spread of Epidemics

  Written By: Awadh Kashmim ( FOR THE YEMEN POST STAFF)
  Article Date: November 24, 2008 


The fears of Wadi Hadramout residents from the spread of epidemics have been mounting, especially when thousands of cattle perished and big lakes of stagnant waters have been formed next to Tarim city and in Sayun city's nearby areas.

In a report issued by the General Authority for Environment Protection, big numbers of cattle perished because of floods and when excavators were incapable to access the areas having these remains of cattle, they were burnt. The work is ongoing in Al-Sawm district to get rid of the dead cattle.

The same report also mentioned that there have been reported cases of diarrhea among locals in Saah and Al-Sawm districts, hinting that the perishing of a large number of animals, some still under ruins, has sent out bad odors that upsets the residents of the nearby areas.

Similar cases have been reported in Tarim's Al-Qawz, Thabah and Mashtah areas and the report revealed that this could trigger environmental risks. It also indicated that there should be prompt spraying operations for swamps to avoid the accumulation of insects that exist there.

Several citizens stress that they fear the environmental pollution that could affect both animal and plant life. Others see that diarrhea cases in Saah are caused by the washed remains of oil, especially when this area is among oil-producing areas.

Though environmental pollution is dangerous, concerned authorities, human organizations and civil societies have paid no attention to such a problem and their efforts was confined to relief efforts, especially food and shelter.

Representative of World Health Organization and Minister of Health Abdul Karim Ras'e revealed, in separate statements, that there have been no reported cases of epidemics in Hadramout, whether in the coastal or inner areas.

An international expert in dealing with perishing animals is expected to reach soon.

In return, local authorities in Wadi Hadramout mentioned that they have prepared lists of swamping areas so that they can be sprayed with pesticides to prevent the breading of harmful insects like mosquitoes.

Despite the media blackout, observers emphasize that there exist cases of diseased locals especially in Saah, Al-Sawm, Tarim, Al-Qaten, Hawarah and Wadi Al-Ein areas, hinting that it is evidenced by the intensive existence of medical centers in these afflicted areas.

These centers include the Hospital of the Emirate Red Crescent in Sayun's Al-Farq area, the Republican Guard Camp in Qaher area to the east of Tarim city, the Central Hospital of Health Ministry in Sayun and another Republican Guard camp in Saah district, as well as other centers in Tarim and some other districts. 

Growth of harmful trees

The rapid growth of harmful trees, especially of a local tree known as 'Sisaban', along Hadramout Valley, has impeded the smooth flow of floods in the valley and its water course. These trees have changed the course of floods to the nearby roads, farms and houses.

Agriculture experts from Hadramout Valley stress that Sisaban and other harmful trees were major factors in the disaster and demand the government and the Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation to plan a national project for rooting out these trees from all areas and districts located on Hadramout Valley.

Spread of flies and misquitos

Dozens of locals from Al-Hali district have amassed in the local council's office hoping for compensations from state; however, they found nothing but empty promises. However, the district chief ended the matter with an attack against a pensioner who presented later a complaint to Hodeidah governor.

Al-Hodeidah citizens complain that heavy rains have caused mosquitoes and flies to increase markedly in number, hinting they could be a contributing factor to the spread of epidemics; however, authorities have paid no attention to such calls.