SHAFAQNA – The World Health Organization says the death toll since the outbreak of cholera in Yemen has climbed to at least 242 amid an ongoing brutal Saudi-led aggression on the impoverished country.
“The speed of the resurgence of this cholera epidemic is unprecedented,” Nevio Zagaria, WHO country representative for Yemen, told reporters in a conference call on Friday in Geneva. “We need to expect something that could go up to 200,000-250,000 cases over the next six months, in addition to the 50,000 cases that have already occurred,” Zagaria added. The cost in lives from this will be will be “extremely, extremely high”, he said.
The outbreak has caused 23,425 cases in 18 of Yemen’s 23 governorates since April 27, and 242 people have died, he said.
On Sunday, a state of emergency was declared in Yemen’s opposition-held capital, Sanaa, after the outbreak killed scores of people over a two-week period.
The health ministry announced the measure, saying that “the number of casualties surpassed the normal rates, exceeding the capacity of the health system, which has become unable to contain this unprecedented health and environmental disaster”.
Cholera outbreaks are symptomatic of the dire conditions in Yemen, which is suffering from a Saudi-led aggression now in its third year. The Saudi regime has also imposed a transport blockade on the war-torn country.
The blockade is hampering the delivery of crucial humanitarian supplies, including food and medicine, while Saudi airstrikes have contributed to deterioration of civilian infrastructure, such as water treatment plants. The UN says 17 million people in Yemen are at imminent risk of famine. Over 12,000 Yemenis, mostly civilians including women and children, have been killed during the ongoing Saudi-led aggression on Yemen.
Last April, children rights groups, Save the Children and Watchlist on Children and Armed Conflict said that the Saudi Arabia-led coalition in Yemen, backed by the UK and the US must be put on a UN violations list for repeated attacks on medical facilities and violating the rights of children.
In a report the two bodies noted that, the conflict has forced more than half of Yemen’s medical facilities out of action, leading to the “near collapse of the country’s already fragile healthcare system.” The report says those that remain face severe shortages of medicine and equipment in the face of a maritime block imposed by the Saudi-led aggressors.