Cholera Outbreak in Yemen Kills over 50 People in Two Weeks

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Yemen’s long-running and brutal civil war has produced a horrifying outbreak of cholera, which the World Health Organization says has killed 51 people since April 27, with new victims reported constantly.

Reuters cites experts blaming the outbreak of cholera (and a less severe outbreak near the end of 2016) on a combination of degraded health and sanitation systems, shortages of safe drinking water, and the elimination of most medical facilities by the Yemeni civil war.

WHO believes 7.6 million Yemenis live in high-risk areas. The risks are increased by recent heavy rainstorms that have flushed contaminants from uncollected garbage into drinking wells, and warmer weather conducive to the spread of cholera pathogens.

Cholera cases have been reported in all of the major cities, but the capital of Sanaa had the most, accounting for 34.6 percent of reports. A hospital in Sanaa reported over 200 cholera patients last week to Al-Jazeera, which described the city streets as “littered with piles of rubbish” due to a seven-month strike by sanitation workers.

“We drink from a well that distributes water to the whole district. We never got sick in the past, but lately we’ve had a crisis with garbage in the city and it’s caused severe diarrhoea and vomiting. It’s horrible,” a resident of the city told Al-Jazeera.

“WHO is in full emergency mode to contain the recent upsurge of suspected cholera cases,” said Dr. Nevio Zagaria, the organization’s representative in Yemen. “We are very concerned with the re-emergence of cholera across several areas of Yemen in the past couple of weeks. Efforts must be scaled-up now to contain the outbreak and avoid a dramatic increase in cases of diarrhoeal disease.”

The BBC quotes the World Health Organization’s estimate that fewer than 45 percent of Yemen’s health facilities are still functioning. Doctors Without Borders is also quoted expressing concerns that Yemeni authorities will not be able to contain the cholera outbreak.

Meanwhile, al-Qaeda is celebrating the upcoming Muslim holy month of Ramadan in Yemen with a contest that will award prizes including an AK-47 automatic rifle, a pistol, and a motorcycle.

The contest, as reported by Foreign Desk News, requires contestants to listen to a series of audiotaped lectures on jihad ideology, then write a 30-page review of the course material. The study guide includes questions such as, “Name three articles of the (Yemeni) constitution which contradict Islamic law,” and “Any person who follows a law other than Islamic law is an infidel who must be killed. List three (Koran) references for this.”


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