The effort to combat Yemen’s spiraling cholera epidemic just hit a wall:
The U.N. health agency says plans to ship cholera vaccine to Yemen are likely to be shelved over security, access and logistical challenges in the war-torn country.
Thanks to the coalition blockade, the bombing campaign’s damage to infrastructure, and the ongoing fighting, the civilian population is often unable to receive the aid that is available. Even when necessary food and medicines can get into the country, they cannot be distributed in a timely fashion, and many of the places with the greatest need are also the hardest to reach. Because the crisis has been so neglected by the rest of the world and aid efforts have been so poorly funded, there is not enough aid available in the first place. What aid there is doesn’t reach many of the starving and sick people in time. That spells disaster for the hundreds of thousands already suffering from cholera and for the millions of malnourished Yemenis who are at great risk of becoming ill and dying from preventable diseases.
In order to start remedying that, there needs to be a cease-fire, an immediate lifting of both sea and air blockades, and a massive infusion of emergency assistance. The U.S. and other Western patrons of the coalition ought to pressure the Saudis and their allies on all these points, but unfortunately we already know from the last two years of enabling them that they will not. U.S. and British policy seems unlikely to change after twenty-seven months of aiding and abetting the coalition in its crimes and the creation of the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.