The International Committee of the Red Cross is warning of unprecedented rates of cholera cases in war-torn Yemen, one of many similar warnings from international health organizations in the past few months.
“More than 5,000 suspected new cases have been reported daily during the past week,” said Maria del Pilar Bauza Moreno, ICRC health coordinator in Yemen. “The spread of the disease, which started just over a month ago, is accelerating.”
Two years of armed conflict have taken a toll on medical facilities in the country, as more than half of Yemen’s facilities, which are now operated by Houthi rebels, no longer function.
The United Nations says about 17 million of Yemen’s 26 million people lack sufficient food and at least three million malnourished children are in “grave peril.”
Yemen, which is the Arab world’s poorest nation, is now classified by the World Health Organization as a level three emergency, alongside Syria, South Sudan, Nigeria and Iraq. This is the country’s second cholera outbreak in less than a year.
Cholera is highly contagious, and can be contracted from ingesting contaminated food and water.