Home/Daniel Larison/A ‘Hideous Milestone’ in Yemen: One Million Cases of Cholera

A ‘Hideous Milestone’ in Yemen: One Million Cases of Cholera

The Red Cross reports that there are now more than a million cases of cholera in Yemen:

It has been roughly eight months since cholera first took hold in war-torn Yemen. In that brief span, the waterborne disease has exacted a staggering toll on the country’s population — and that toll only continues to rise by the day.

The number of suspected cases of cholera has crossed one million, the International Committee of the Red Cross announced Thursday.

The only good news is that the spread of the disease seems to have slowed, but the epidemic has not ended and the policies that have made such a huge outbreak possible remain in place. Because of the fuel shortage brought on by the tightened coalition blockade, millions of people who were previously able to pump clean drinking water are no longer able to do so. The lack of clean water makes a resurgence of cholera and other water-borne diseases much more likely. Until the blockade is fully lifted, the civilian population will be deprived of the essential food, fuel, and medicine needed to combat this disease and others like it. Yemeni civilians continue to face an unacceptably high risk of contracting and possibly dying from preventable diseases because of the Saudi-led war and blockade supported by the U.S. and other Western governments. The conditions that have caused and sustained this epidemic were created by the Saudi-led coalition through their indiscriminate bombing and punitive blockade. This is an ongoing crime against the people of Yemen, it is an outrage, and it has to be stopped.

The Red Cross refers to the millionth case of cholera this year as a “hideous milestone in the 21st century,” and indeed it is. It should be appalling that an epidemic on this scale has been allowed to occur at all, and it is even more disgusting that the coalition and its Western patrons have helped to bring it about. As if it was not bad enough to subject millions to the threat of death by starvation, Yemenis have also had to endure the worst cholera epidemic on record. If nothing changes, they will also experience the worst famine in decades. Every day that the U.S. continues to provide arms and fuel to the Saudi-led coalition is another day that the administration shows that it is not serious about addressing the causes of the humanitarian catastrophe engulfing Yemen.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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