Marking a "hideous milestone" in Yemen, the International Committee of the Red Cross said on Thursday that the number of cholera cases in the country has passed one million—a direct result of the U.S.-backed war that has ravaged one of the world's most impoverished nations.
#Yemen cholera update:— ICRC (@ICRC) December 21, 2017
We can confirm that the country has now reached 1 million suspected cases of cholera.
This is devastating.
Eight months after the country's cholera outbreak began—stemming from water and sanitation systems that have been bombed out of commission by Saudi Arabian airstrikes that receive direct support from the U.S. military—humanitarian agencies have recorded 2,200 deaths from the disease, nearly a third of which were children.
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In recent weeks, more than a dozen aid groups have called on the U.S., France, and the U.K. to stop supplying arms to the Saudis, whose bombing campaign against the Iran-backed Houthis since 2015—passing its 1,000th day this week.
In addition to the cholera crisis, the violence has left one of the world's poorest populations near famine and struggling with a diphtheria outbreak. More than 10,000 civilians have been killed in the war and nearly 80 percent of the country is without access to adequate food, clean water, and healthcare.
In addition to the lack of clean water and sanitation, blockades—also supported by the U.S.—have caused the country's health crises to spin out of control, preventing aid organizations from sending medical supplies.
Oxfam called the humanitarian crisis in Yemen "a man-made tragedy" on Thursday, while the International Rescue Committee expressed alarm at the cholera epidemic's milestone and the resurgence of other preventable diseases that have been eradicated in much of the world.
"This suffering is the direct result of a fractured healthcare system due to prolonged conflict in the country," said Michelle Gayer, Senior Director of Emergency Health at the IRC. "Cholera has plagued the Yemeni people since April, and now easily preventable diseases are beginning to wreak havoc on a population already in need. If the war continues, Yemen will see even more outbreaks of other diseases that have not been seen in years."