Senior UN official appeals for aid to stop ‘unprecedented’ spread of cholera in Yemen

With more than 100,000 people in Yemen believed to be at risk for cholera, the top United Nations humanitarian official in the country is appealing to Governments for urgent financial and political support.

“Cholera continues to spread at an unprecedented rate throughout Yemen affecting men, women, and children who have for more than two years withstood the consequences of a conflict that is collapsing institutions and social safety nets,” the UN humanitarian coordinator in the country, Jamie McGoldrick.

More than 35,500 suspected cases of cholera were reported in Yemen in the past three weeks, and 361 deaths.

Health authorities have said that one-third of the current cases are children, drawing a link between cholera and malnutrition in a country where 17 million people are food insecure.

“Hundreds of thousands of people are at a greater risk of dying as they face the ‘triple threat’ of conflict, starvation and cholera,” Mr. McGoldrick said.

The speed at which cholera is spreading among the population exceeds the capacity of the health system to respond given its weakened state after more than two years of conflict, he noted, despite “valiant” work by national and international humanitarians.

The majority of health care centres in Yemen are closed, according to the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). Those that are open have limited staff and supplies due to import restrictions and a lack of regular salary payments to health workers.

In addition, water and sanitation services are unable to provide clean water to the population.

The humanitarian community is seeking $55.4 million for the next six months, but “every day that funding is delayed the outbreak affects more people and more resources are needed to control it,” OCHA said.

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