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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 14 December 2018

Yemen's unsung heroes in the battle against cholera

The efforts of thousands of local volunteer have helped reduce the weekly number of suspected new cholera cases by a third since the end of June

Yemenis collect drinking water from a donated water pipe amid a rapidly spreading cholera outbreak in Sanaa, Yemen on August 17, 2017. More than 500,000 people in Yemen have been infected with cholera and almost 2,000 others have died since late April across the impoverished Arab country, due to lack of access to clean water and a shortage of medical supplies. Yahya Arhab/EPA
Yemenis collect drinking water from a donated water pipe amid a rapidly spreading cholera outbreak in Sanaa, Yemen on August 17, 2017. More than 500,000 people in Yemen have been infected with cholera and almost 2,000 others have died since late April across the impoverished Arab country, due to lack of access to clean water and a shortage of medical supplies. Yahya Arhab/EPA

The cholera epidemic that has ravaged war-torn Yemen has been declining for the past two months because of an unprecedented response by "unsung local heroes", the United Nations said on Tuesday.

Due to the efforts of thousands of local volunteers backed up by UN agencies, the weekly number of suspected new cases of cholera had fallen by a third since the end of June, the Unicef said.

The United Nations has called Yemen the "largest humanitarian crisis in the world".

The collapse of Yemen's infrastructure after more than two years of war - between the Iran-backed Shiite rebels and Saudi-led coalition seeking to restore the government of president Abdrabu Mansur Hadi -

has allowed the country's cholera epidemic to swell to the largest in the world.

On August 14, the World Health Organisation said that cholera is believed to have affected more than 500,000 people and killed nearly 2,000 in Yemen since late April.

According to Unicef, more than half of suspected cases were children.

"Amid the suffering, ordinary Yemenis are leading a heroic daily fight against acute watery diarrhoea and cholera which is now paying off," the Unicef statement said.

"Massive collective efforts to treat the sick and improve water and sanitation systems have helped slow the spread of the disease," it said.

An estimated 8,400 people have been killed and 48,000 wounded since the civil war erupted.

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Read more:

How cholera outbreak is adding to Yemen's woes

Coalition requests UN control of Sanaa airport to enable relief flights

More than 1 million malnourished children in Yemen at risk of cholera

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