Yemeni Women Reopen Old Factory For Facemasks Amidst Health Crisis

Published March 19th, 2020 - 12:54 GMT

More than a decade after it closed, 20 Yemeni women have revived the war-torn country's oldest factory to make face masks in anticipation of an outbreak of the new coronavirus.

The situation is especially fraught because Yemen's health system has all but collapsed following years of conflict.

In the factory in the capital Sanaa, rows of desks line a cavernous hall with women in black niqab and white gloves hunched over sewing machines meticulously assembling medical masks, AFP reported.

Yemen, ravaged by an ongoing war described by the United Nations as the world's worst humanitarian crisis, has not yet registered any COVID-19 cases.

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A Yemeni woman makes face masks at a textile factory in the capital Sanaa on March 16, 2020. More than a decade after it shut down, 20 women have brought back to life Yemen's oldest industrial factory to manufacture what could save many lives amid a global pandemic: masks. Mohammed HUWAIS / AFP

A Yemeni woman makes face masks at a textile factory in the capital Sanaa on March 16, 2020. More than a decade after it shut down, 20 women have brought back to life Yemen's oldest industrial factory to manufacture what could save many lives amid a global pandemic: masks. Mohammed HUWAIS / AFP

A Yemeni woman makes face masks at a textile factory in the capital Sanaa on March 16, 2020. More than a decade after it shut down, 20 women have brought back to life Yemen's oldest industrial factory to manufacture what could save many lives amid a global pandemic: masks. Mohammed HUWAIS / AFP

A Yemeni woman makes face masks at a textile factory in the capital Sanaa on March 16, 2020. More than a decade after it shut down, 20 women have brought back to life Yemen's oldest industrial factory to manufacture what could save many lives amid a global pandemic: masks. Mohammed HUWAIS / AFP

Yemeni women make face masks at a textile factory in the capital Sanaa on March 16, 2020. More than a decade after it shut down, 20 women have brought back to life Yemen's oldest industrial factory to manufacture what could save many lives amid a global pandemic: masks. Mohammed HUWAIS / AFP

Yemeni women make face masks at a textile factory in the capital Sanaa on March 16, 2020. More than a decade after it shut down, 20 women have brought back to life Yemen's oldest industrial factory to manufacture what could save many lives amid a global pandemic: masks. Mohammed HUWAIS / AFP

Yemeni women make face masks at the textile factory in the capital Sanaa on March 16, 2020. Yemen's Huthi rebels said they would suspend passenger flights in and out of Sanaa airport for two weeks to prevent the introduction of novel coronavirus. The country has not to date announced any cases of the COVID-19 illness, but the poor state of the country's health infrastructure after five years of war would mean that such an outbreak could be catastrophic.  MOHAMMED HUWAIS / AFP

Yemeni women make face masks at the textile factory in the capital Sanaa on March 16, 2020. Yemen's Huthi rebels said they would suspend passenger flights in and out of Sanaa airport for two weeks to prevent the introduction of novel coronavirus. The country has not to date announced any cases of the COVID-19 illness, but the poor state of the country's health infrastructure after five years of war would mean that such an outbreak could be catastrophic. MOHAMMED HUWAIS / AFP

A Yemeni woman makes face masks at a textile factory in the capital Sanaa on March 16, 2020. More than a decade after it shut down, 20 women have brought back to life Yemen's oldest industrial factory to manufacture what could save many lives amid a global pandemic: masks. Mohammed HUWAIS / AFP

A Yemeni woman makes face masks at a textile factory in the capital Sanaa on March 16, 2020. More than a decade after it shut down, 20 women have brought back to life Yemen's oldest industrial factory to manufacture what could save many lives amid a global pandemic: masks. Mohammed HUWAIS / AFP

A Yemeni woman makes face masks at a textile factory in the capital Sanaa on March 16, 2020. More than a decade after it shut down, 20 women have brought back to life Yemen's oldest industrial factory to manufacture what could save many lives amid a global pandemic: masks. Mohammed HUWAIS / AFP

A Yemeni woman makes face masks at a textile factory in the capital Sanaa on March 16, 2020. More than a decade after it shut down, 20 women have brought back to life Yemen's oldest industrial factory to manufacture what could save many lives amid a global pandemic: masks. Mohammed HUWAIS / AFP

Yemeni women make face masks at a textile factory in the capital Sanaa on March 16, 2020. More than a decade after it shut down, 20 women have brought back to life Yemen's oldest industrial factory to manufacture what could save many lives amid a global pandemic: masks. Mohammed HUWAIS / AFP

Yemeni women make face masks at a textile factory in the capital Sanaa on March 16, 2020. More than a decade after it shut down, 20 women have brought back to life Yemen's oldest industrial factory to manufacture what could save many lives amid a global pandemic: masks. Mohammed HUWAIS / AFP

The country has not to date announced any cases of the COVID-19 illness, but the poor state of the country's health infrastructure after five years of war would mean that such an outbreak could be catastrophic.  Mohammed HUWAIS / AFP

The country has not to date announced any cases of the COVID-19 illness, but the poor state of the country's health infrastructure after five years of war would mean that such an outbreak could be catastrophic. Mohammed HUWAIS / AFP

A Yemeni woman makes face masks at a textile factory in the capital Sanaa on March 16, 2020. More than a decade after it shut down, 20 women have brought back to life Yemen's oldest industrial factory to manufacture what could save many lives amid a global pandemic: masks. Mohammed HUWAIS / AFP
A Yemeni woman makes face masks at a textile factory in the capital Sanaa on March 16, 2020. More than a decade after it shut down, 20 women have brought back to life Yemen's oldest industrial factory to manufacture what could save many lives amid a global pandemic: masks. Mohammed HUWAIS / AFP
Yemeni women make face masks at a textile factory in the capital Sanaa on March 16, 2020. More than a decade after it shut down, 20 women have brought back to life Yemen's oldest industrial factory to manufacture what could save many lives amid a global pandemic: masks. Mohammed HUWAIS / AFP
Yemeni women make face masks at the textile factory in the capital Sanaa on March 16, 2020. Yemen's Huthi rebels said they would suspend passenger flights in and out of Sanaa airport for two weeks to prevent the introduction of novel coronavirus. The country has not to date announced any cases of the COVID-19 illness, but the poor state of the country's health infrastructure after five years of war would mean that such an outbreak could be catastrophic.  MOHAMMED HUWAIS / AFP
A Yemeni woman makes face masks at a textile factory in the capital Sanaa on March 16, 2020. More than a decade after it shut down, 20 women have brought back to life Yemen's oldest industrial factory to manufacture what could save many lives amid a global pandemic: masks. Mohammed HUWAIS / AFP
A Yemeni woman makes face masks at a textile factory in the capital Sanaa on March 16, 2020. More than a decade after it shut down, 20 women have brought back to life Yemen's oldest industrial factory to manufacture what could save many lives amid a global pandemic: masks. Mohammed HUWAIS / AFP
Yemeni women make face masks at a textile factory in the capital Sanaa on March 16, 2020. More than a decade after it shut down, 20 women have brought back to life Yemen's oldest industrial factory to manufacture what could save many lives amid a global pandemic: masks. Mohammed HUWAIS / AFP
The country has not to date announced any cases of the COVID-19 illness, but the poor state of the country's health infrastructure after five years of war would mean that such an outbreak could be catastrophic.  Mohammed HUWAIS / AFP
A Yemeni woman makes face masks at a textile factory in the capital Sanaa on March 16, 2020. More than a decade after it shut down, 20 women have brought back to life Yemen's oldest industrial factory to manufacture what could save many lives amid a global pandemic: masks. Mohammed HUWAIS / AFP
A Yemeni woman makes face masks at a textile factory in the capital Sanaa on March 16, 2020. More than a decade after it shut down, 20 women have brought back to life Yemen's oldest industrial factory to manufacture what could save many lives amid a global pandemic: masks. Mohammed HUWAIS / AFP
A Yemeni woman makes face masks at a textile factory in the capital Sanaa on March 16, 2020. More than a decade after it shut down, 20 women have brought back to life Yemen's oldest industrial factory to manufacture what could save many lives amid a global pandemic: masks. Mohammed HUWAIS / AFP
A Yemeni woman makes face masks at a textile factory in the capital Sanaa on March 16, 2020. More than a decade after it shut down, 20 women have brought back to life Yemen's oldest industrial factory to manufacture what could save many lives amid a global pandemic: masks. Mohammed HUWAIS / AFP
Yemeni women make face masks at a textile factory in the capital Sanaa on March 16, 2020. More than a decade after it shut down, 20 women have brought back to life Yemen's oldest industrial factory to manufacture what could save many lives amid a global pandemic: masks. Mohammed HUWAIS / AFP
Yemeni women make face masks at a textile factory in the capital Sanaa on March 16, 2020. More than a decade after it shut down, 20 women have brought back to life Yemen's oldest industrial factory to manufacture what could save many lives amid a global pandemic: masks. Mohammed HUWAIS / AFP
Yemeni women make face masks at the textile factory in the capital Sanaa on March 16, 2020. Yemen's Huthi rebels said they would suspend passenger flights in and out of Sanaa airport for two weeks to prevent the introduction of novel coronavirus. The country has not to date announced any cases of the COVID-19 illness, but the poor state of the country's health infrastructure after five years of war would mean that such an outbreak could be catastrophic.  MOHAMMED HUWAIS / AFP
Yemeni women make face masks at the textile factory in the capital Sanaa on March 16, 2020. Yemen's Huthi rebels said they would suspend passenger flights in and out of Sanaa airport for two weeks to prevent the introduction of novel coronavirus. The country has not to date announced any cases of the COVID-19 illness, but the poor state of the country's health infrastructure after five years of war would mean that such an outbreak could be catastrophic. MOHAMMED HUWAIS / AFP
A Yemeni woman makes face masks at a textile factory in the capital Sanaa on March 16, 2020. More than a decade after it shut down, 20 women have brought back to life Yemen's oldest industrial factory to manufacture what could save many lives amid a global pandemic: masks. Mohammed HUWAIS / AFP
A Yemeni woman makes face masks at a textile factory in the capital Sanaa on March 16, 2020. More than a decade after it shut down, 20 women have brought back to life Yemen's oldest industrial factory to manufacture what could save many lives amid a global pandemic: masks. Mohammed HUWAIS / AFP
A Yemeni woman makes face masks at a textile factory in the capital Sanaa on March 16, 2020. More than a decade after it shut down, 20 women have brought back to life Yemen's oldest industrial factory to manufacture what could save many lives amid a global pandemic: masks. Mohammed HUWAIS / AFP
A Yemeni woman makes face masks at a textile factory in the capital Sanaa on March 16, 2020. More than a decade after it shut down, 20 women have brought back to life Yemen's oldest industrial factory to manufacture what could save many lives amid a global pandemic: masks. Mohammed HUWAIS / AFP
Yemeni women make face masks at a textile factory in the capital Sanaa on March 16, 2020. More than a decade after it shut down, 20 women have brought back to life Yemen's oldest industrial factory to manufacture what could save many lives amid a global pandemic: masks. Mohammed HUWAIS / AFP
Yemeni women make face masks at a textile factory in the capital Sanaa on March 16, 2020. More than a decade after it shut down, 20 women have brought back to life Yemen's oldest industrial factory to manufacture what could save many lives amid a global pandemic: masks. Mohammed HUWAIS / AFP
The country has not to date announced any cases of the COVID-19 illness, but the poor state of the country's health infrastructure after five years of war would mean that such an outbreak could be catastrophic.  Mohammed HUWAIS / AFP
The country has not to date announced any cases of the COVID-19 illness, but the poor state of the country's health infrastructure after five years of war would mean that such an outbreak could be catastrophic. Mohammed HUWAIS / AFP