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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 3 March 2021

Unicef flies conjoined Yemeni twins to Jordan for surgery

The agency has been able to cover the operation's medical and logistical expenses through private donations

Conjoined Yemeni twins Muhammed, right, and Ahmed in an ambulance at Sanaa airport before a Unicef-chartered plane flew them to Jordan for surgical separation on February 6, 2021. EPA
Conjoined Yemeni twins Muhammed, right, and Ahmed in an ambulance at Sanaa airport before a Unicef-chartered plane flew them to Jordan for surgical separation on February 6, 2021. EPA

Conjoined twins born in Yemen were taken to Jordan on Saturday for separation surgery, the UN children's agency said, almost two months after a hospital warned they were in critical condition.

Born in the Yemeni capital Sanaa in mid-December, "an echocardiogram showed that each of the two children had their own heart, though the position of the heart of one of them is not normal," Majda Al Khatib, director of Al Sabeen hospital, told AFP at the time.

The facility's "low capacity" prevented doctors from accurately determining "which organs are connected", she added.

Unicef said on Saturday that the twins "have been medically evacuated this morning to Amman, Jordan, where they will undergo a separation surgery".

"Following weeks of arrangements … they are now in the safe hands of a team of expert surgeons. We hope to see them back soon in Sanaa in good health," Philippe Duamelle, Unicef representative to Yemen, was quoted as saying in a statement.

The Yemeni capital has been controlled since 2014 by Iran-backed Houthi rebels, who are fighting an internationally recognised government that is supported by a Saudi-led military coalition.

The conflict has devastated health services already under-resourced in the Arab world's poorest country.

Sanaa's airport is closed to commercial flights due to an air blockade imposed by the Saudi-led coalition, although UN flights are permitted.

 A nurse holds conjoined twin male babies Muhammed (R) and Ahmed (L) inside an ambulance before they are being evacuated to Jordan on a UNICEF-chartered flight for their surgical separation, at Sana'a Airport in Sana'a, Yemen,  February 6, 2021. EPA
 A nurse holds conjoined twin male babies Muhammed (R) and Ahmed (L) inside an ambulance before they are being evacuated to Jordan on a UNICEF-chartered flight for their surgical separation, at Sana'a Airport in Sana'a, Yemen,  February 6, 2021. EPA

The twins' 35-year-old mother and father accompanied the babies on the trip, Unicef said.

The agency said it had been able to cover the operation's medical and logistical expenses thanks to "generous contributions from multiple private individual donors".

In February 2019, a pair of conjoined baby boys in need of urgent treatment died in Sanaa two weeks after birth.

Their plight sparked a plea for urgent medical treatment overseas.

Yemen's conflict has precipitated the world's worst humanitarian crisis, according to the United Nations.

Published: February 7, 2021 02:22 PM

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