Over one million Yemeni children are at risk of dying from cholera due to the Saudi-led aggression and blockade against the impoverished Arab state.
According to Save the Children charity group, since the outbreak began three months ago, there have been 1,900 deaths and 440,000 cases – a number that exceeds the global record of more than 340,000 cases in Haiti for the whole of 2011.
The cholera infection rate is rising due to the advent of the rainy season. Oxfam predicts the number of victims could reach 600,000 while the World Health Organization says cholera cases have spread to 21 of the country’s 23 provinces.
In a report, Save the Children said: “Malnourished children have substantially reduced immune systems and are at least three times more likely to die if they contract cholera.”
The disease, spread by sewage contaminated water, causes severe diarrhea, vomiting and dehydration, which can be treated if victims are quickly rehydrated orally and intravenously.
Saudi bombardments destroyed Yemen’s health system
During the 28 months of the Saudi Arabia-led bombing aggression against Yemen, most of Yemen’s health system has been destroyed, and Save the Children said that “health workers have not been paid for nearly a year”.
Oxfam insists urgent measures must be taken to counter and treat the disease. “We need a massive, well-coordinated effort to get clean water, decent sanitation and simple things like soap to people to keep them safe from disease. We need . . . entry of supplies and people so we can get on with the job.”
Saudi regime blocks aid delivery
However, the Saudi-imposed blockade is obstructing deliveries of food and medical supplies through Yemen’s ports and preventing supplies from reaching the capital Sana’a, where the medical emergency is critical.
Auke Lootsma, UN development program country director, said: “We have difficulties obtaining permission from the coalition to transport jet fuel to Sanaa to facilitate these flights.”
UN children’s agency (UNICEF) director Anthony Lake said: “In the areas where we are working effectively, both the number of [cholera] cases and the fatality rate are going down. So it’s a race between us and the rains and the continuing destruction and the fighting.”
27 Million Yemenis need urgent aid
Raging cholera is only one aspect of the disaster, according to UN figures. Two-thirds of the 27.6 million Yemenis require emergency aid; 4.5 million children and pregnant and lactating women are malnourished; 14 million have no healthcare.
A Saudi-led coalition started an illegal aggression on Yemen in March 2015 to oust the popular Ansarullah movement and restore to power fugitive Hadi who resigned as president and fled to Riyadh. The Saudis have failed to achieve their stated objective and are now stuck in the Yemen quagmire while indiscriminately bombarding the impoverished stated on an almost daily basis.
The Saudi war on Yemen, one of the world’s most impoverished countries, has killed nearly 14,000 people and left tens of thousands wounded while displacing millions.
According to the International Committee of the Red Cross, more than three million people have fled their homes since the onset of the conflict, and more than 20 million throughout the country are in need of humanitarian assistance.
The Saudi-led coalition has imposed a sea and air blockade in many areas controlled by Ansarullah movement including the capital Sana’a, allowing in only limited UN-supervised deliveries of basic goods.