Saudis pledge $33.7m to bat­tle cholera in Ye­men

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

Saudi Ara­bia has pledged $33.7 mil­lion to help the World Health Or­ga­ni­za­tion erad­i­cate cholera in war­wracked Ye­men, where the disease has killed nearly 2,000 peo­ple, the WHO said yes­ter­day. Gre­gory Hartl, a spokesman for the or­ga­ni­za­tion, con­firmed that Saudi Ara­bia, which leads an Arab coali­tion bat­tling rebels in Ye­men, had signed an agree­ment com­mit­ting the funds to help the WHO bat­tle the spread of cholera.

The oil-rich Gulf king­dom, in a state­ment on Thurs­day, said the money com­mit­ted to WHO was part of an over­all ef­fort to com­bat the cholera out­break in Ye­men. Riyadh said it also pledged $33 mil­lion to the UN’s chil­dren agency, UNICEF, for a project to im­prove wa­ter and san­i­ta­tion fa­cil­i­ties which are “drivers of the epi­demic”. The Saudi aid was ini­tially an­nounced in June by Crown Prime Mo­hammed bin Sal­man.

Last week the ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mo­hammed bin Rashid Al-Mak­toum, also pledged $10 mil­lion to help the WHO stem the spread of cholera in Ye­men. The United Arab Emi­rates is a key mem­ber of the Saudi-led coali­tion that en­tered Ye­men’s con­flict in 2015 on the side of the gov­ern­ment against Iran-backed Shi­ite Houthi rebels. Since then, the war in the im­pov­er­ished Ara­bian Penin­sula na­tion has killed more than 8,000 peo­ple, ac­cord­ing to WHO fig­ures.

The cholera out­break has al­ready claimed the lives of at least 1,915 peo­ple since April this year, with 436,000 sus­pected cases across the coun­try. A re­port by three UN agen­cies last week said the vi­cious com­bi­na­tion of war, cholera and hunger has left 80 per­cent of Ye­meni chil­dren in des­per­ate need of aid. It also warned that the num­ber of cholera cases was ex­pected to reach 600,000 by the end of the year.

The re­port was is­sued after ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tors of WHO, UNICEF and the World Food Pro­gram vis­ited Ye­men to as­sess the sit­u­a­tion.

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