Cholera death toll in Yemen nears 1,000

The outbreak coupled with famine is an indication things are “falling apart.” Only 29 percent of a massive humanitarian plan for Yemen in 2017 has been funded, says a UN coordinator.

Photo by: (AFP)
Photo by: (AFP)

At least one patient checks in at Sabaeen hospital every 60 seconds six weeks into the second outbreak of cholera in less than a year. This level of emergency has overwhelmed medical facilities and staff, June 13, 2017.

The death toll from a cholera outbreak is approaching 1,000 in Yemen, the war-devastated and impoverished country where "humanity is losing out to politics," a senior UN official said Thursday.

Jamie McGoldrick, the UN humanitarian coordinator in Yemen, said, "Time is running out to save people who are being killed or being starved, and now you have cholera adding to the complication."

Speaking at a press briefing in Jordan, McGoldrick said, "We are struggling because of the lack of resources. We need some action immediately."

TRT World's Rahul Radhakrishnan reports

McGoldrick gave updated figures of more than 130,000 suspected cases of cholera and over 970 deaths, with women and children accounting for half of the numbers.

"What is heartbreaking in Yemen is that humanity is losing out to the politics," McGoldrick said.

He said a $2.1 billion humanitarian response plan for Yemen for 2017 had only been funded by 29 percent.

Things fall apart

The cholera outbreak on top of famine in Yemen was "an indication of how things are falling apart with only 50 percent of health services" operational.

"We need resources, we need money and we need them now to address the famine and to address the problems of cholera,”  McGoldrick added.

Donors in April pledged close to $1.1 billion in aid to Yemen, which the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs calls the "largest humanitarian crisis in the world."

But only 25 percent of aid pledged to the UN refugee agency has been delivered so far, UNHCR's Yemen spokesperson Shabia Mantoo said on Wednesday.

The vulnerable population

Yemeni children sit at Sabaeen Hospital in Sanaa, where cholera-infected patients are receiving treatment, June 13, 2017. (AFP)

Children are more likely than adults to contract cholera and more likely to die of it too.

The charity Save the Children says a child is being infected with the disease every 60 seconds in Yemen

Cholera spreads through contaminated water and food. UN says at least 14.5 million people in Yemen lack clean water and sanitation

Yemen's war has seen more than 8,000 people killed and millions displaced since a Saudi-led coalition intervened in March 2015 to support the government against Shia Houthi rebels allied with Iran.

TRTWorld and agencies