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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 October 2018

Suspected cholera cases soar in Yemen's Hodeidah says charity

Autumn rains have increased the risk of infection

The World Health Organisation says more than 2,200 people have died of cholera, nearly one-third of them under the age of five. AFP
The World Health Organisation says more than 2,200 people have died of cholera, nearly one-third of them under the age of five. AFP

Suspected cholera cases have nearly tripled in the past three months in Hodeidah, the Yemeni port city on the front line between a pro-government alliance and the Houthi rebels, Save the Children said on Tuesday.

"Health facilities supported by Save the Children across [Hodeidah] governorate recorded a 170 per cent increase in the number of suspected cholera cases, from 497 in June to 1,342 in August," a report by the London-based NGO said.

The United Nations and World Health Organisation have warned that Yemen faces a third cholera epidemic as autumn rains have increased the risk of infection.

Yemen has already been hit by two major cholera outbreaks in the past two years.

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The WHO says 2,451 people have died from cholera across Yemen since April 2017, while more than a million suspected cases were reported during that period.

More than 120,000 suspected cases were reported between January and mid-August 2018, according to the UN, as a pro-government military coalition led by Saudi Arabia battles the Iran-backed Houthi rebels.

The coalition launched a major operation to retake Hodeidah from the rebels in June, which was put on hold for 11 weeks as the UN struggled to bring warring parties to peace talks in Geneva.

But the talks failed to get off the ground after the Houthis refused to attend over what they said was the UN's failure to guarantee a safe return to Sanaa.

Hodeidah's port is a vital lifeline for aid shipments to Yemen, the most impoverished country in the Arab world.