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Yemen’s Rapidly Growing Cholera Epidemic

The Red Cross recently warned that the cholera epidemic in Yemen could exceed 600,000 cases before the end of the year. Considering how rapidly the epidemic has spread in the last three months (there are already more than 360,000 cases), that seems like a conservative estimate. The cholera epidemic in Yemen is already the worst on record, and there are more cases of cholera there in three months than there were in Haiti over the course of a year following the 2010 hurricane. Yemen’s rainy season is beginning, which threatens to accelerate the spread of the disease:

The World Health Organization stressed that Yemen’s cholera outbreak is “far from being under control, with the rainy season having begun, and possibly increasing the pace of transmission,” U.N. deputy spokesman Farhan Haq said.

Widespread malnutrition–brought on by the war and Saudi-led coalition blockade–is also making the population more susceptible to disease:

Malnutrition is one of the main challenges in containing the disease.

“We need to break the vicious cycle of malnutrition and diarrhea,” WHO said. “Seventeen million people in Yemen are currently food insecure. Malnutrition exacerbates diarrhea, and diarrhea leads to malnutrition.”

All of this contributes to creating the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. It is an entirely man-made crisis, and it is one that the coalition and their Western patrons could still do a great deal to remedy if they wanted. The people of Yemen are in urgent need of a major emergency response if they are to avoid massive loss of life from starvation and disease, and so far the international response has been slow and inadequate. As long as our government and others continue to enable the coalition’s war effort, no amount of aid or funding will have the desired effect. This is what has come from “reassuring” the Saudis and their allies for more than two years by aiding and abetting their wrecking and starvation of a poor country whose people have done nothing to us.

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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