#ICYMI Weekly Roundup: Yemen’s Cholera Crisis ‘Spiraling out of Control’ July 14, 2017

Next Tuesday, ICRC’s Director of Operations Dominik Stillhart will testify in from of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Multilateral International Development, Multilateral Institutions, and International Economic, Energy, and Environmental Policy. The focus of the hearing is “The Four Famines: Root Causes and a Multilateral Action Plan,” where Dominik will provide ICRC’s view and policy messages on Somalia, South Sudan, Nigeria, and Yemen. The testimony will serve as a follow up from ICRC's Director-General Yves Daccord's testimony last March.

While the situation is incredibly dire in all four countries, this week the media has focused on Yemen as it reached a new horrifying milestone—more than 300,00 suspected cholera cases in country. In an article for BBC News, Johannes Bruwer, ICRC’s deputy head of delegation in Sanaa, Yemen wrote a compelling firsthand testimony of his third mission to the country:

I think the vacant stares in the eyes of children - and their parents - may well haunt me 10 years from now. Yemen now suffers three-way tragedy: a population under siege, suffering the violence of war and unable to work or access nutritious food or health care; an economic collapse that has led to a rise in criminality; and now a devastating health crisis. This all leads to what could be the largest cholera outbreak of our lifetime. More than half of all health facilities in Yemen are closed or partially functioning I have worked with the ICRC for 11 years, but this is the first time I have seen this kind of suffering.

In response, the ICRC has sent critical medical supplies from seven countries, including IV fluids, oral rehydration salts, antibiotics and chlorine tablets. Health staff and engineers are supporting 17 cholera treatment facilities around the country and providing care to nearly one in five cholera cases in Yemen - the biggest single provider of case management and infection control in the country. But as Bruwer writes, “Even with similar work being done by Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) and the World Health Organisation (WHO), there are simply too many people in need.

In this week’s roundup, we take a look the spiraling of the Yemen cholera epidemic, as portrayed by the media and other online outlets.**


The Untold Story of the Tiniest Victims of Yemen’s Brutal War (Huffington Post)

Rowaida Abdelaziz writes that it is the children of Yemen that are on the frontlines of the country’s health crisis. Even before the civil war ravaged the country, Yemen was the poorest nation in the Middle East. Today, more than 2 million children there are malnourished. Half a million suffer from severe acute malnutrition, which is a life-threatening condition. Weakened by the lack of the food, children are at increased risk of dying from preventable diseases like cholera. Yemen is battling a cholera outbreak that has already affected 300,000 people and has killed more than 1,600. Every year, about 40,000 children in the country don’t live past their fifth birthday. “The conflict in Yemen is fueling one of the world’s worst children’s crises,” Bismarck Swangin, a communications specialist with UNICEF based in Sanaa, told HuffPost.

'Cholera is Everywhere': Yemen Epidemic Spiralling Out of Control (The Guardian)

Saeed Kamali Dehghan writes about the cholera epidemic that has now reached a milestone of over 300,000 suspected cases. More than 1,600 people have died. Children account for nearly half of all suspected cholera cases in the country, according to the UN’s children agency.

Cholera Outbreak Pushes War-Ravaged Yemen to the Brink of Catastrophe (Los Angeles Times)

Ann M. Simmons reports on the cholera outbreak that has infected more than 300,000 people and has caused more than 1,700 deaths in the last few months. Health and humanitarian officials say that the outbreak is propelling the war-ravaged nation to the brink of catastrophe.

U.N. Warned "We Should All Feel Deeply Guilty" as Yemenis Die (CBS News)

The cholera epidemic raging across war-torn Yemen -- already the worst outbreak of the disease in the world -- grew dramatically worse over the past month, United Nations officials warned the Security Council on Wednesday. Pamela Falk reports on the crisis, saying that the UN has sounded alarm bells before, but few as dramatic as humanitarian relief coordinator Stephen O'Brien's warning that "millions of Yemeni civilians -- women, children and men -- continue to be exposed to unfathomable pain and suffering" due to famine and the cholera epidemic.

Yemen's 'Unfathomable Pain and Suffering' (Al Jazeera)

Al Jazeera reports that United Nations officials have warned that the conflict in the Arab world's poorest nation, Yemen, is intensifying daily, with armed groups expanding, thousands facing a cholera epidemic, and seven million "on the cusp of famine." Speaking before the UN Security Council on Wednesday, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, UN special envoy to Yemen, called on all parties "to act for the sake of peace," saying "excuses are unacceptable...especially when the solutions are in plain sight."

Yemen Cholera Cases Pass 300,000 as Outbreak Spirals – ICRC (BBC News)

BBC News reports on the cholera outbreak in war-torn Yemen. It is now thought to have infected 300,000 people in the past 10 weeks, the International Committee of the Red Cross says. The situation has continued to "spiral out of control", with about 7,000 new cases every day, the ICRC warned. Yemen's health, water and sanitation systems are collapsing after two years of conflict between pro-government forces and the rebel Houthi movement. On June 24, the World Health Organisation declared that Yemen was facing "the worst cholera outbreak in the world", with more than 200,000 suspected cases. In just over two weeks, another 100,000 people have been infected - an increase the ICRC's Middle East regional director Roberto Mardini called "disturbing."


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