UN says more than 1,300 dead in Yemen cholera epidemic

A statement by UNICEF and World Health Organisation said Yemen was "now facing the worst cholera outbreak in the world" with an average of 5,000 new cases every day.

Photo by: AP
Photo by: AP

Since the cholera outbreak was declared in April 2017, an estimated 1,265 people have died.

A cholera epidemic raging across Yemen is spiralling out of control, with more than 1,300 people killed by the outbreak of the disease and an average of 5,000 new cases every day, UN agencies said on Saturday. 

UNICEF director Anthony Lake and World Health Organisation chief Margaret Chan said in a statement Saturday, "we are now facing the worst cholera outbreak in the world," with an average of 5,000 new cases every day. 

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

"We are struggling because of the lack of resources. We need some action immediately," he said at a press briefing in the Jordanian capital.

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

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

More than 300,000 cases by September

A cholera outbreak in war-ravaged Yemen will probably have infected more than 300,000 people by September, up sharply from the current tally of nearly 193,000 cases, the United Nations said Friday.

"Probably at the end of August we will reach 300,000" cases, UN children's agency (UNICEF) spokeswoman Meritxell Relano told reporters in Geneva during a conference call.

"The number of cases continue to increase," Relano said, adding that all of the 21 governorates in Yemen, the Arab world's poorest country, have been affected.

She said children had been hit hard by the outbreak, accounting for half of the registered cases to date. But only a quarter of the people who have died so far were children.

The UN says collapsing health, water and sanitation systems have cut off 14.5 million people from regular access to clean water and sanitation, increasing the ability of the disease to spread.

In addition, an estimated 30,000 local health workers have not been paid for nearly 10 months.

A tragic war

For more than two years, Yemen has been locked in a devastating civil war between the Saudi-backed government and Houthi rebels who control the capital.

AlQaeda has taken advantage of the conflict to expand its presence in several areas of southern and eastern Yemen under the nominal control of the government and its allies in a Saudi-led military coalition.

TRTWorld and agencies