'600,000 Yemenis could contract cholera in 2017'

ICRC says 600,000 Yemenis could contract cholera in 2017
2 min read
23 July, 2017
The International Committee of the Red Cross warned around 600,000 people could contract cholera in Yemen this year.
Thousands of people have been hit by the deadly cholera outbreak in Yemen [AFP]

More than 600,000 people are expected to contract cholera in Yemen this year, the International Committee of the Red Cross warned on Sunday, as the war-torn country's healthcare system faces collapse.

One in every 45 Yemenis will have contracted the disease by December as "a direct consequence of a conflict that has devastated civilian infrastructure and brought the whole health system to its knees," the ICRC said in a statement. 

More than 370,000 people have fallen ill and 1,800 have died since late April in Yemen's second cholera outbreak in less than a year, according to the ICRC and the World Health Organisation. 

The comments followed similar sentiment by the head of anti-poverty NGO CARE International on Saturday, who denounced the situation in Yemen as "an absolute shame on humanity".

Wolfgang Jamann denounced Yemen's humanitarian crisis, which was exacerbated in March 2015 when Saudi-led forces launched a military operation in support of the government against the Houthi rebels.

"We are now in the 21st century and the current situation is an absolute shame on humanity," Jamann told reporters after a five-day visit to the impoverished Arabian Peninsula country.

A string of vital ports along the country's Red Sea coastline are blockaded, leaving millions of people with limited access to food and medicine. 

Jamann said "60 percent of the country is food insecure and over half the population is unable (to access) safe drinking water".

Less than half of the country's medical facilities are currently functional.

The war in Yemen has caused more than 10,000 deaths - mostly of civilians - since the coalition intervened, according to the UN.

More than 44,500 people are estimated to have been wounded.

Agencies contributed to this report.