The ICRC expects the cholera crisis to infect one in every 45 Yemenis by the end of the year, as less than 45 per cent of Yemen’s medical facilities are operational. The ICRC has termed Yemen’s outbreak, “the world’s single largest humanitarian crisis,” with over 20 million people needing aid.
“The great tragedy is that this cholera outbreak is a preventable, man-made humanitarian catastrophe.
It is a direct consequence of a conflict that has devastated civilian infrastructure and brought the whole health system to its knees,” said ICRC President, Peter Maurer, after arriving for a five-day trip to Yemen.
“I find this needless suffering absolutely infuriating. The world is sleepwalking into yet more tragedy. Further deaths can be prevented, but warring parties must ease curbs and allow the import of medicines, food and essential supplies and they must show restraint in the way they conduct warfare,” Maurer added.
Yemen has suffered a countrywide destruction of sewage networks and water treatment stations.
According to the ICRC, limited medical resources could lead to the outbreak of other diseases, such as malaria or dengue that may go untreated and lead to further deaths.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), 5,000 Yemenis fall sick every day with symptoms of acute watery diarrhoea or cholera. Yemen’s rainy season from July to September would increase the risk of the disease spreading further through water contaminated with faeces, Oxfam has said. “It is feared that the total number of people infected could eventually rise to over 600,000, making it one of the largest outbreaks since records began in 1949,” the charity organisation added.
WHO has most recently reported 368,207 suspected cholera cases, and 1,828 deaths due to the disease since April.