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WHO warns of worst cholera outbreak in modern history in war-torn Yemen

Published on 04/12/17 at 11:03am

The conflict and poor economic situation in Yemen is creating a “perfect mix” for a resurgence of cholera in the country, the WHO has warned, as blockades imposed by the Saudi-led military coalition cut off aid supplies and fuel for medical centres in the region.

A key driver of the potential crisis is the lack of clean drinking water – a major contributing factor in the spread of cholera – as a result of failing sewage systems and insufficient fuel for water pumps.

The outbreak began in April as a result the Saudi-led campaign, and has become the most severe recorded in modern history, with the WHO calling it “the largest epidemic in the world” – so far, the disease has claimed more than 2,200 lives and infected over 900,000.

The conflict has made it impossible for medical supplies to reach those in need, and those affected by the disease have been unable to leave the country to seek treatment abroad.

Additionally, hunger levels in the nation have been called “unprecedented” by the United Nations, with 17 million of its 27 million population now in dire need of food. Of this number, 6.8 million are forced to rely entirely on getting food from external sources. 16% of Yemeni children under five years of age are suffering from acute malnutrition and 5.2% in a severe and potentially fatal state.

Yemen has been under siege from Saudi Arabia since 2015, with attacks hitting civilian areas and infrastructure, despite claims that Saudi bombers are only targeting Ansarullah fighters. 15,000 Yemeni citizens have so far been killed, including hundreds of women and children.

Matt Fellows

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