SANAA (Yemen) • A pair of conjoined baby twins born in war-ravaged Yemen were taken to Jordan on Saturday for separation surgery, the United Nations children's agency said, almost two months after a hospital warned that they were in critical condition.
They were born in the Yemeni capital Sanaa in mid-December last year. Dr Majda al-Khatib, director of Al-Sabeen hospital, said at the time that "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". 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 separation surgery".
Mr Philippe Duamelle, the Unicef representative to Yemen, said in a statement: "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."
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, though UN flights are permitted.
The twins' 35-year-old mother and father had 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 their birth. Their plight had sparked a plea for urgent medical treatment overseas.