Yemen's mountain of trash piles on the country's woes

STORY: At a landfill near the Yemeni capital Sanaa, a truck unloads bags of trash onto a seemingly endless sea of garbage.

Close by, people stand readied with bags to collect any recyclables they can find amid the piles of waste.

The al-Azraqain landfill receives hundreds of tons of trash a day, including dangerous untreated medical waste generated by hospitals in Sanaa.

More than seven years of conflict in Yemen have devastated the economy, displaced millions, and wreaked havoc on the environment.

Bahauddin al-Hajj is the data manager at the landfill.

"We have no solution but to bury it the medical waste with the garbage. It is mixed with garbage and buried. This may cause issues in the future, health issues - chemicals may leak into the groundwater, meaning this will affect the environment, this is one of the biggest threats to the environment."

Waste management officials in Sanaa say Saudi-led airstrikes destroyed a medical waste processing incinerator at the landfill site in 2015.

Houthi administrators say they are looking for support from NGOs to rebuild the facility.

In 2021 the United Nations Development Programme inaugurated a waste-to-energy system in Yemen in a bid to "revolutionize the governorate’s approach to addressing waste management."

The plant built southwest of the capital is expected to transform up to five tons of solid waste a day.

But that's only a fraction of the 1,870 tons of waste dumped at al-Azraqain.

Yemen's warring sides, in a major breakthrough, agreed this month on a two-month truce that began on April 2 - the first since 2016.

The deal eased a coalition blockade on areas held by the Houthis, who ousted former president Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi's government from the capital in late 2014.