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Suspected cholera cases soar in Yemen's Hodeida

Thousands of Yemenis have been displaced from Hodeidah (Getty)

Date of publication: 2 October, 2018

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Cholera cases are rapidly rising in the port city of Hodeidah in war-torn Yemen.

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Yemen, Cholera
Suspected cholera cases have nearly tripled in the past three months in Hodeidah, the Yemeni port city on the front line between a pro-government alliance and rebels, Save the Children said Tuesday.

"Health facilities supported by Save the Children across (Hodeida) governorate recorded a 170 percent increase in the number of suspected cholera cases, from 497 in June to 1,342 in August," a report by the London-based NGO said.

In late July, "airstrikes resulted in the damage of a sanitation facility and water station that supplies Hodeida with most of its water", the report said.

"After this incident, suspected cholera cases almost doubled" between July and August in health centres supported by the NGO, it said.

The United Nations and World Health Organization have warned Yemen faces a third cholera epidemic as autumn rains have increased the risk of infection.

Yemen has already been hit by two major cholera outbreaks in the past two years.

The WHO says 2,451 people have died of cholera across Yemen since April 2017, while more than a million suspected cases were reported during the same period.

More than 120,000 suspected cases were reported between January and mid-August 2018, according to the UN, as a pro-government military coalition led by Saudi Arabia battles Iran-backed Houthi rebels.

The coalition launched a major operation to retake Hodeidah from the rebels in June, which was put on hold for 11 weeks as the UN struggled to bring warring parties to peace talks in Geneva.

But the talks failed to get off the ground after the Houthis refused to attend over what they said was the UN's failure to guarantee a safe return to Sanaa.

Hodeida's port is a vital lifeline for aid shipments to Yemen, the most impoverished country in the Arab world.

Yemen's conflict has left nearly 10,000 people dead since the Saudi-led coalition joined the government's fight against the Huthis in 2015, pushing eight million Yemenis to the brink of famine. 

"Children in Yemen are experiencing severe hardships that no child should endure, facing multiple threats from bombs and bullets to disease and extreme hunger. It’s unacceptable that they’re dying from entirely preventable causes," Tamer Kirolos, Save the Children’s Yemen Country Director, said.

"Treating cholera is straightforward providing children can get the rehydration and antibiotics they need, and hospitals and clinics are adequately equipped. But nearly four years of conflict has led to a near-total collapse of the health system in Yemen."

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