The number of suspected cholera cases in Yemen has risen to more than 100,000 since an outbreak began on April 27, the World Health Organization said on Thursday.
The rapid spread of the disease through 19 of Yemen's 23 governorates highlighted a humanitarian catastrophe in Yemen after two years of civil war that has disabled most health care facilities, according to the UN humanitarian office.
WHO spokesman Tarik Jasarevic tweeted:
— WHO Yemen (@WHOYemen) June 8, 2017
"To date, 101,820 suspected cholera cases and 789 deaths have been reported in 19 governorates."
Yemen is in a devastating war between Iranian-backed Houthis and the Saudi-supported government, and less than half of the country's health facilities are functioning two years into the conflict.
"Epidemic of an unprecedented scale"
WHO has warned that the number of cases could hit 300,000, but the daily number of newly reported cases declined slightly in the week of June 5 to 3,432, compared with 3,651 in the previous seven-day period.
"Yemen is in the grip of a severe cholera epidemic of an unprecedented scale," the UN humanitarian office said.
"Malnourished children and women, people living with other chronic health conditions and households that do not have enough to eat are now at greater risk of death as they face the 'triple threat' of conflict, famine and cholera," it said.
— OCHA Yemen (@OCHAYemen) June 7, 2017
Fighting making situation worse
The war has left 19 million of its 28 million people needing humanitarian aid and many of them on the verge of famine.
The cholera outbreak is the second wave of an epidemic that began in October, spread until December and then dwindled but was never brought fully under control.
Aid charity Oxfam called for a "cholera ceasefire" to allow health workers to halt the spread of the disease, adding that the published numbers were probably an underestimate.
“Yemen is on the edge of an abyss. Lives hang in the balance," Oxfam's Yemen Country Director Sajjad Mohammed Sajid said.
"Cholera is simple to treat and prevent, but while the fighting continues the task is made doubly difficult."
— Oxfam International (@Oxfam) June 8, 2017