Ye­men’s cholera out­break the worst in his­tory as mil­lionth case looms

Iran Daily - - International -

The cholera epi­demic in Ye­men has be­come the largest and fastest­spread­ing out­break of the dis­ease in mod­ern his­tory, with a mil­lion cases ex­pected by the end of the year and at least 600,000 chil­dren likely to be af­fected.

The World Health Or­ga­ni­za­tion has re­ported more than 815,000 sus­pected cases of the dis­ease in Ye­men and 2,156 deaths. About 4,000 sus­pected cases are be­ing re­ported daily, more than half of which are among chil­dren un­der 18. Chil­dren un­der five ac­count for a quar­ter of all cases, the Guardian re­ported.

The spread of the out­break, which has quickly sur­passed Haiti as the big­gest since mod­ern records be­gan in 1949, has been ex­ac­er­bated by hunger and mal­nu­tri­tion. While there were 815,000 cases of cholera in Haiti be­tween 2010 and 2017, Ye­men has ex­ceeded that num­ber in just six months.

“Cholera has been around in Ye­men for a long time, but we’ve never seen an out­break of this scale or speed. It’s what you get when a coun­try is brought to its knees by con­flict, when a health care sys­tem is on the brink of col­lapse, when its chil­dren are starv­ing, and when its peo­ple are blocked from get­ting the med­i­cal treat­ment they need,” said Tamer Kiro­los, Save the Chil­dren’s coun­try di­rec­tor for Ye­men.

“There’s no doubt this is a man-made cri­sis. Cholera only rears its head when there’s a com­plete and to­tal break­down in san­i­ta­tion. All par­ties to the con­flict must take re­spon­si­bil­ity for the health emer­gency we find our­selves in.”

The poor coun­try has been fac­ing war by a Saudi-led coali­tion since March 2015. Riyadh launched the mil­i­tary ag­gres­sion on Ye­men to elim­i­nate the pop­u­lar Houthi An­sarul­lah move­ment and re­in­stall a Riyadh-friendly for­mer pres­i­dent.

Saudi-led coali­tion airstrikes — sup­ported by the United States and United King­dom — con­tin­ued to be the lead­ing cause of 12,000 ca­su­al­ties. The war has also dis­placed more than three mil­lion and ru­ined much of the im­pov­er­ished coun­try’s in­fra­struc­ture.

US sup­port tar­geted by bill

The Hill wrote on Oc­to­ber 10 that the war in Ye­men is a tragedy of epic pro­por­tions, in which the United States is deeply and di­rectly in­volved.

The US Air Force’s re­fu­el­ing op­er­a­tions for the Saudi-led coali­tion strik­ing Ye­men could end if law­mak­ers suc­ceed in pass­ing a House bill.

Rep. Ro Khanna, a Cal­i­for­nia Demo­crat and mem­ber of the House Armed Ser­vices Com­mit­tee, on Sept. 27 in­tro­duced House Con­gres­sional Res­o­lu­tion 81, which would or­der the US mil­i­tary re­moved from unau­tho­rized hos­til­i­ties in Ye­men, ex­cept op­er­a­tions di­rected at Al-qaeda in the Ara­bian Penin­sula.

Ac­cord­ing to mil­i­tary.com, the bi­par­ti­san res­o­lu­tion, also headed by Rep. Wal­ter Jones, R-N.C.; Rep. Mark Po­can, D-wis.; and Rep. Thomas Massie, R-KY., has 30 mem­bers of the House as co-spon­sors.

The con­gress­man Khanna told Mid­dle East Eye on Wed­nes­day that pulling sup­port for Saudi Ara­bia’s war in Ye­men is not enough: The United States must go fur­ther and probe whether its decades-old ties with Riyadh have helped it – or sim­ply sucked Wash­ing­ton into di­vi­sive, bun­gled Mid­dle Eastern quag­mires.

He urged the House to vote this week on his bill to stop help­ing the Saudi-led coali­tion with mil­i­tary tar­get­ing and the mid-air re­fu­el­ing of war­planes in Ye­men.

Khanna’s bill says Congress was never asked if the US should ef­fec­tively join Riyadh’s as­sault on the coun­try, and de­mands that it exit the war within 30 days of an af­fir­ma­tive vote.

The bill’s op­po­nents say it does not meet the cri­te­ria needed for a fast-tracked House vote, which could oth­er­wise oc­cur this week. Pre­vi­ous con­gres­sional ef­forts to halt US arms sup­plies to the Saudi-led coali­tion came close, but did not pass.

A mother sits with her sons while they are treated at a cholera cen­ter in Sana’a, the cap­i­tal of Ye­men. KHALED AB­DUL­LAH/REUTERS

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