The worst cholera outbreak in the world is affecting Yemen, according to the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF). 200.000 cases of cholera have been reported, and they estimate cases could reach 300.000 by the end of August. 1300 people have already died, and a quarter of them are just kids.

To worsen the situation the Yemeni population has been going through a war. Therefore, it is challenging to assist them properly in controlling the cholera outbreak. The health system is collapsed, and so are the water and sanitation systems. However, the UNICEF representative in Yemen, Meritxell Relano, said that they are working to reduce the cases of cholera and the deaths produced by it.

“A team of people, they go house by house and they check the water sources that the family is using,” Relano said. “They chlorinate the water tanks if they have a water tank … and then they are informed about the ways to avoid cholera by providing good hygiene to the family — hand washing with soap, how to handle the food and how to handle a family that is sick with cholera or with diarrhea.”

Girl lies on a bed at a hospital where she is receiving treatment for cholera amid confirmation by the UNICEF and the World Health Organization of an outbreak of the epidemic in Sanaa, the capital of Yemen
A Yemeni girl is waiting to receive treatment a hospital in Sanaa, the capital of Yemen. Image Source: Reuters –
Khaled Abdullah

Yemen has the worst cholera outbreak worldwide with 5000 new cases every day

Yemen has been living in violence and hunger since the civil war started in 2015. A lot of people have said that the Yemeni civil war is one of the forgotten issues in the world because it doesn’t receive the attention it deserves. It started when Houthi rebels seized power and overthrew the president, who fled to Saudi Arabia.  After two years of war, the health system in the country is almost collapsed, according to UNICEF’s civil servants. Now, the country is facing another big issue that becomes more significant given the current circumstances of the country, the worst cholera outbreak according to UN agencies, such as the World Health Organization and UNICEF.

UNICEF estimates that there are about 200.000 people affected by cholera right now and the numbers are increasing dramatically. There are about 5000 new cases each day in Yemen.

“More than 1,300 people have died — one-quarter of them children — and the death toll is expected to rise.” Expressed Anthony Lake, executive director of UNICEF.

International Rescue Committee: “There’s been a whole collapse of the social life”

According to Mohamed El Montassir Hussein, Yemen director for the International Rescue Committee, every family in Yemen is suffering from a big issue, namely cholera, famine, having someone in the rebel army or the Saudi-led coalition. Society in Yemen is collapsed. And there is not a safe place in the country anymore. The problem is expanding geographically.

For this reason, controlling the Yemeni cholera outbreak is too hard. The people who work to make the health system, the water, and sanitation system have not been paid in the past six months. However, they haven’t given up. Even with all the obstacles, aid agencies are doing their best to decrease the cases and de deaths from cholera.

UNICEF has already met with partners in Sana’a to halt the spread of cholera. They have provided families with a “package of intervention.” This package comes with a household water purification.

Medical attention for cholera outbreak in yemen
UNICEF is trying to raise awareness and consciousness among families and communities about the disease by saying them how it is transmitted and that they can do to prevent it.

Cholera is caused by contaminated water and food that can be treated very easily. It is sometimes transmitted by the fluids of an infected person. They are trying to provide people with clean drinkable water, medical treatment, and proper sanitation. They called on the Yemeni authorities to improve and implement mechanisms to reduce the cholera crisis that is existing in the country.

Has the United States something to do with this humanitarian crisis?

The United States supports the Saudi coalition to fight the rebels in Yemen. Last week, UN humanitarian chief Stephen O’Brien said that the Yemen cholera outbreak was a “man-made” catastrophe. He claimed it was  Yemen’s warring sides and their international backers who caused the outbreak. The agency has reported a general decrease of cholera in other 77 countries, where the humanitarian organizations have provided life-saving packages of integrated measures.

As well, others have expressed their opposition towards the participation of the U.S in the world.

“There’s a U.S. imprint on every civilian death inside Yemen that’s caused by the Saudi bombing campaign,” Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut told NPR’s Michele Kelemen last month after the U.S. signed a new arms deal with Saudi Arabia. “The Saudis simply could not operate this bombing campaign without us,” he continued. “Their planes can’t fly without U.S. refueling capacity. They are dropping munitions that we’ve sold them. We are standing side by side with them often when they are reviewing intelligence about targets.”

However, the new crown prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman, decided to donate $66 million to WHO and UNICEF, so they can help to reduce cholera cases. UNICEF thanked the new king for his contributions, and it said that they would be opened to discuss this contribution.

Source: NPR