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    Women sit with relatives infected with cholera at a hospital in the Red Sea port city of Hodeidah, Yemen May 14, 2017

    Red Cross: Yemen Cholera Deaths Expected to Double by Year’s End

    © REUTERS/ Abduljabbar Zeyad
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    The forecast for Yemen’s cholera epidemic looks grim, as the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) warns that by the end of 2017 the number of cholera cases will double, reaching 600,000.

    President of ICRC Peter Maurer called the massive outbreak "alarming and growing" on Sunday while on a five-day visit to the country. Zee News quoted him saying, "The great tragedy is that this cholera outbreak is a preventable man-made humanitarian catastrophe." 

    He explained that devastation of Yemen’s health system and infrastructure by the ongoing civil war is directly responsible for the health crisis. Maurer said, "I find this needless suffering absolutely infuriating. The world is sleep-walking into yet more tragedy." 

    On July 21 the World Health Organization (WHO) reported that since the outbreak began in April there had already been 1,828 cholera-related deaths reported.

    Since there is a blockade on certain areas imposed by the Saudi-led Arab coalition, the ICRC is trying to negotiate with different sides of the Yemen conflict to allow its members freedom of movement to places they want to visit, according to Committee spokeswoman in Sanaa Soumaya Beltifa.

    The Red Cross reports that since conflict first broke out in September 2014 more than three million people have fled their homes, while 20 million people in Yemen still need humanitarian assistance. 

    Adding insult to injury is the fact that Yemen is on the brink of famine, and cholera is typically more severe for people who are malnourished.

    A couple of weeks ago, ICRC doubled its aid to the struggling Arab country, Maurer told Al Jazeera. "What we are doing at the present moment is to increase our preventive efforts in waste collection, water cleaning systems and water repair systems, which is important to prevent the further spread of cholera."

    Representatives from the WHO, the World Food Programme and the UN Children’s Fund visited the southern province of Aden to discuss international aid with Prime Minister Ahmed bin Dagher.

    The visit was meant to address "the cholera epidemic which has spread to all provinces," according to WHO director Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

    Cholera is an intestinal infection usually contracted through contact with contaminated food or water and poor sanitation. Frequent consumption of uncontaminated water and food can effectively treat the disease, but without treatment it can prove fatal.

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    Tags:
    Yemen conflict, cholera outbreak, Cholera, famine, International Committee of the Red Cross, World Health Organization (WHO), UNICEF, Yemen
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