Yemen’s Horrifying Cholera Epidemic Continues to Spread
Oxfam reports that there are over 750,000 cases of cholera in Yemen, and they are warning that Yemen’s cholera epidemic could reach as many as a million cases by November:
Over 2,100 people have already died from cholera, and while the spread of cholera has slowed slightly, it is still spreading fast and at current rates of increase, the number of suspected cases would reach a million by November.
While cholera isn’t new to Yemen, the scale of this outbreak is unprecedented and is being driven by a two-and-a-half year conflict, a borderline famine and entrenched poverty. Over half of all health facilities are destroyed or only partially working, seven million people are a step away from famine and over 20 million need some level of humanitarian aid.
The epidemic is the worst of its kind in modern records, and has surpassed the number of cases in Haiti’s epidemic that occurred between 2010 and 2015 in a matter of months. More than half the population lacks access to clean drinking water. These terrible conditions are partly the result of the bombing damage to water and sewage treatment plants. The Hadi government’s decision to move the central bank has also contributed to the collapse in public services.
Oxfam’s humanitarian director, Nigel Timmins, had this to say about the catastrophe unfolding in Yemen:
“Yemen’s tragedy is a man-made catastrophe for which all sides bear responsibility. Yet it is being fuelled by deliberate political decisions in London, Washington and other world capitals. Billions of dollars worth of arms are being sold with little if any concern for the destruction of lives their use is causing. Our common humanity tells us this has to stop and efforts to foster peace have to start.”
The latest news comes as Human Rights Watch reports that the Saudi-led coalition has been consistently blocking aid to Yemen and diverting ships with much-needed fuel away from the country:
The Saudi-led coalition’s restrictions on imports to Yemen have worsened the dire humanitarian situation of Yemeni civilians, Human Rights Watch said today. The restrictions, in violation of international humanitarian law, have delayed and diverted fuel tankers, closed a critical port, and stopped life-saving goods for the population from entering seaports controlled by opposing Houthi-Saleh forces.
The horrific conditions in Yemen are indeed man-made, and the Saudi-led coalition backed by our government bears substantial responsibility for creating those conditions through their bombing campaign, blockade, and other efforts to impede the delivery of aid. The famine and cholera crises in Yemen were created in large part by the Saudis and their allies with Washington’s blessing and support, and they can still be combated and prevented from claiming more lives if the coalition’s patrons want that to happen. Unfortunately, all indications from the administration to date are that they are more concerned with satisfying despotic client regimes than they are with the lives of millions of suffering Yemenis.