United Nations faces war, rains in Yemen cholera spread

Faith Castro
July 27, 2017

Western and regional powers must use their influence on Yemen's warring parties to end a two-year conflict that has exacerbated a huge cholera epidemic and left the country in ruins, the International Committee of the Red Cross said on Wednesday. "We spoke with families overcome with sorrow for their ill loved ones and struggling to feed their families", they lamented, adding that as they drove through the city, "we saw how vital infrastructure, such as health and water facilities, have been damaged or destroyed".

UNICEF representatives also witnessed the dedication of the Yemenis: about 16 thousands of volunteers walk from house to house to tell people about protection from diarrhea and cholera, doctors and nurses working a day without pay.

"Definitely we would hope that Western countries understand the deep crisis, the risk of this enormous crisis for global stability, for the stability of the region", said ICRC President Peter Maurer during a visit to the Yemeni capital Sana'a on Wednesday. "If we can't scale up to over nine million people that means they do not get the food they need, the nutrition they need, which means their immunisation system goes down, which means cholera and other diseases become rampant and that's what we have right here in Yemen today". "Disease creates more malnutrition".

Highlighting that in spite of not having been paid for over 10 months, numerous 30,000 health workers continue to labour, the senior United Nations officials said they have asked the authorities to pay them.

"We also saw the vital work being done by local authorities and NGOs (non-governmental organization), supported by worldwide humanitarian agencies, including our own. And we urged them - more than anything - to find a peaceful political solution to the conflict". Supply delivery is ongoing, and the United Nations is working with the World Bank on a partnership to support the response needs and maintain the local health system.

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They flagged that almost 80 per cent of Yemen's children need immediate humanitarian assistance, underlining the importance of sustained efforts to stop the spread of disease.

Worldwide donors pledged $2.1 billion in aid at a conference earlier this year but only a third of it has been disbursed and the shortfall has forced aid agencies to redirect their limited resources towards fighting cholera, leaving communities at greater risk of malnutrition.

"When we met with Yemeni leaders - in Aden and in Sana'a - we called on them to give humanitarian workers access to areas affected by fighting".

"The Yemeni crisis requires an unprecedented response".

Yemenis displaced by Saudi Arabia's airstrikes sit under a makeshift shelter at a camp for internally displaced persons in the northern district of Abs in Yemen's Hajjah province, on July 23, 2017.

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