The huge cholera epidemic was beginning to wane in Yemen before the tightening of the Saudi-led blockade. That is likely to change now that Yemeni cities are starting to run out of clean water because of the blockade’s impact on fuel supplies:
Three cities in Yemen have run out of clean water because a blockade by a Saudi-led coalition has cut imports of fuel needed for pumping and sanitation, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said on Friday.
As a result of the development in Taiz, Saada and Hodeidah close to one million people are now deprived of clean water and sanitation as Yemen emerges from the world’s worst cholera outbreak in modern times, the ICRC said.
The coalition blockade prevents the delivery of essential goods, including fuel, and sharply drives up prices for the goods that are already in the country. That makes basic necessities unobtainable for an increasing number of people in a country whose economy has already been devastated over the last two and a half years. Lack of access to clean drinking water makes the spread of disease more likely, and widespread malnutrition and starvation mean that millions are much more vulnerable to contracting and then dying from preventable disease. The blockade is also keeping out vaccines needed to prevent additional outbreaks of other diseases in addition to cholera:
Before a total blockade was imposed on November 6th, UN agencies had warned that 14.5 million Yemenis are without basic healthcare. Cholera – contracted earlier this year by 900,000 and fatal for 2,200 – could make a comeback due to the shortage of fuel for electricity to purify and pump clean water and treat waste. The lack of vaccines has brought rapidly spreading diptheria, threatening 1 million children.
The lack of fuel compounds all of Yemen’s existing humanitarian problems, and the lack of necessary medicine threaten the lives of hundreds of thousands more:
“Without fuel, the vaccine cold chain, water supply systems and waste water treatment plants will stop functioning. And without food and safe water, the threat of famine grows by the day,” the U.N. agency heads said.
At least one million children are at risk if a fast-spreading diphtheria outbreak is not stopped in its tracks, and the lives of 400,000 pregnant women and their babies are under threat because of the lack of medicines.
The civilian population of Yemen is made to suffer all these things because of a war that the coalition can’t win and one that it lacks the wisdom and decency to stop.