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Yemen: 6.8 million people on the brink of starvation; 240,000 suspected cholera cases

30 Jun 2017
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3 May 2017: Al Joumhouri Hospital, Sana'a, Yemen: A young boy lies in the emergency room awaiting treatment. Credit: Giles Clarke for UNOCHA

The rapid advance of Yemen’s triple emergency of conflict, cholera and famine has affected 20 million people, 6.8 million of whom are now on the brink of starvation.

The cholera epidemic sweeping across the country has infected 240,000 people and killed 1,475, according to the Ministry of Health. Some 40 per cent of the victims are children. According to the Government, the national case-fatality rate is now at 0.06 per cent. Some governorates have reported much greater fatality rates, the highest of which are in Ibb and Raymah governorates, at 1.2 per cent and 1.6 per cent, respectively.

There is a high risk that the cholera epidemic will continue to spread, given the crippled health, water and sanitation sectors; conflict that prevents millions of people from accessing clean water; the onset of the rainy season; and people’s weak immunity levels due to food insecurity.

More than half of the country’s health facilities have closed due to damage or destruction, or due to a lack of financial support to maintain stocks of medicines and supplies and provide health workers’ salaries. Some 30,000 health workers have not been paid in more than 10 months.
The man-made humanitarian crisis is the result of armed conflict and civilians being unable to access assistance due to warring parties. The crisis now requires much more assistance from the international community.

Of the US$2.1 billion required for the Yemen Humanitarian Response Fund, only 31.6 per cent has been received so far. This leaves a funding gap of $1.4 billion to support emergency assistance in the priority areas of food; health; nutrition; protection; shelter and relief items; and water, sanitation and hygiene.