Sanaa — Yemen is currently facing a cholera outbreak, which is an added threat to infants that already face starvation, according to the UN’s children agency.
Health professionals in Sanaa and Taez have already reported quite a few cases to UNICEF. The UNICEF health team has been collaborating with doctors all over the country to find the cause of the outbreak. At the same time, the organization has contacted international donors to ask for funding that will be used to improve the health conditions for children.
“This outbreak adds to the misery of millions of children in Yemen. Children are at a particularly high risk if the current cholera outbreak is not urgently contained especially since the health system in Yemen is crumbling as the conflict continues,” said UNICEF Yemen representative Julien Harneis.
Cholera outbreak and vulnerable groups in Yemen
Cholera is an infection caused by some strains of the bacterium Vibrio cholera and is transmitted by drinking contaminated water. The classic symptom is acute diarrhea, so severe that it quickly dehydrates patients, who in fifteen percent of cases die. Muscle cramps and vomiting are also common.
According to UNICEF, three million Yemeni urgently need immediate food supplies, while one million and a half endure malnutrition. The agency is mainly concerned for more than three hundred thousand children suffering from “very severe” malnutrition that puts their life at risk.
The Yemeni conflict
The tensions between the Yemeni government and the Houthi militia, backed up by Iran increased to a new level after a Saudi-led Arab coalition in support of President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi started intervening in the country in March 2015.
A year and a half later, the war has killed almost seven thousand people and has displaced both internally and externally more than three million people, as stated by the United Nations. So far, the rebels have retreated out of the majority of the country’s south, but they have managed to control almost all the Red Sea coast and the nation’s capital, Sanaa.
A seventy-two-hour truce is being negotiated
The U.N. envoy to the Arabian Peninsula country claimed on Friday that a seventy-two-hour truce is being negotiated in Yemen. The envoy had been meeting with rebel representatives, and the truce announcement is supposed to take place soon.
Earlier this year the government forces and the Shiite Houthi rebels spent three months negotiating a peace agreement that did not see the light. The process was dismissed in August, which led U.N. envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed to pledge for new negotiations, as a ceasefire is “critical” for the Yemeni people.
Ahmed claimed that these new negotiations will be fructiferous and that the militia rebels “are convinced of the need” for a truce. The envoy also said he was going to travel to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia’s capital, for further discussions with Yemeni President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi.
Finally, Ahmed concluded he is serious about drafting a new peace plan for the war-torn nation “in the next two weeks,” but more consultations were needed first.
Sources: Al Arabiya