Home/Daniel Larison/Yemen’s Horrifying Cholera Epidemic Keeps Spreading

Yemen’s Horrifying Cholera Epidemic Keeps Spreading

Yemen’s cholera epidemic continues to spread, and has now infected more than 600,000 people:

Yemen’s cholera outbreak has infected 612,703 people and killed 2,048 since it began in April, and some districts are still reporting sharp rises in new cases, data from the World Health Organization and Yemen’s health ministry showed on Tuesday.

The overall spread of the epidemic has slowed in the past two months, with the daily number of new suspected cases cut to around 3,000 in recent days.

However the epidemic, the most explosive on record in terms of its rapid spread, has continually confounded expectations. Soon after it began, WHO saw a worst-case scenario of 300,000 cases within six months.

Yemen’s cholera epidemic is the worst in the world and the worst on record. The epidemic had reached 200,000 cases a little over two months ago. Most of the people infected with cholera have been stricken since then. In mid-July, there were over 360,000 cases, and almost another quarter million people have caught the disease in the last six weeks. Back in July, the Red Cross warned that there could be as many as 600,000 cases by the end of the year, but that mark has already been reached in early September. The epidemic has been spreading faster than anticipated, and before the year is out will presumably infect many tens of thousands more at least.

The epidemic has spread so quickly in part because of the devastated infrastructure and health care system that have been wrecked by the Saudi-led coalition bombing campaign enabled by the U.S. and other Western governments. Another reason is that roughly half of the population is badly malnourished on account of the coalition blockade that has created near-famine conditions across the country, and that has made millions of people much more susceptible to disease and far more likely to die from it. Aid groups and medical personnel have done heroic work combating the disease, and they have kept the epidemic from becoming even worse, but they are up against the world’s worst humanitarian disaster with meager resources, scant funding, and almost no international awareness of what is happening there. The near-total neglect of Yemen’s multiple, overlapping humanitarian crises in Western and international media doesn’t help.

The U.S. and other enablers of the coalition’s war and blockade bear significant responsibility for both the famine and cholera crises in Yemen, and they have it within their power to remove at least some of the causes of the civilian population’s suffering. Millions of Yemenis are at risk of dying from either starvation or preventable diseases, and all of this is a man-made disaster made possible by the atrocious war on Yemen that has been enabled by our government’s support.

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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