115 dead as Yemen cholera outbreak spreads
SANAA // A cholera outbreak in war-torn Yemen has killed 115 people and left 8,500 ill as hospitals struggle to cope with an influx of patients, the International Committee of the Red Cross said on Sunday.
“We now are facing a serious outbreak of cholera,” said ICRC director of operations Dominik Stillhart in the capital, Sanaa.
Citing figures from the Yemeni health ministry, Mr Stillhart said 115 people had died of cholera between April 27 and Saturday.
More than 8,500 suspected cases of the waterborne disease were reported in the same period in 14 governorates across Yemen, Mr Stillhart said, up from 2,300 cases in 10 governorates last week.
It is the second outbreak of cholera in less than a year in Yemen, the Arab world’s poorest country, and comes amid a devastating war being fought between the government – supported by a Saudi-led coalition – and Iran-backed Houthi rebels allied with renegade soldiers loyal to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh. More than two-and-a-half years into the conflict, less than half of the country’s health facilities are functioning.
Mr Stillhart said hospitals were filled beyond capacity with patients displaying symptoms of cholera, a bacterial infection contracted through ingesting contaminated food or water.
“There are up to four cholera patients in one single bed,” he said.
“There are people in the garden, and some even in their cars with the IV drip hanging from the window.”
The World Health Organization now classifies Yemen as one of the worst humanitarian emergencies in the world alongside Syria, South Sudan, Nigeria and Iraq.
Critical food imports are also at an all-time low as many of the country’s Red Sea ports are blockaded.
The United Nations has warned that 17 million people, equivalent to two-thirds of the population, are at imminent risk of famine in Yemen.
More than 8,000 people have been killed since the Saudi-led coalition intervened in the war in March 2015 to help restore the internationally-recognised government to power, according to the WHO.
* Agence France-Presse
Updated: May 14, 2017 04:00 AM