World War, hunger, cholera: Yemen suffers 'appalling' crisis

19:58  14 july  2017
19:58  14 july  2017 Source:   usatoday.com

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A Yemeni child receives treatment at a hospital in Sana'a, Yemen.© YAHYA ARHAB, EPA A Yemeni child receives treatment at a hospital in Sana'a, Yemen.

A senior United Nations official says rival groups in Yemen and their backers should feel "deeply guilty" for driving the humanitarian crisis in the war-torn nation as it suffers through the world’s worst cholera epidemic.

U.N. humanitarian chief Stephen O'Brien, speaking to the U.N. Security Council this week, blamed the warring parties in the Arab world’s poorest nation for the conflict that has left millions in "unfathomable pain and suffering."

U.N. special envoy for Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed said the conflict is intensifying daily and 14 million Yemenis are in desperate need of food. O'Brien said 7 million people, including 2.3 million malnourished children under the age of 5, are on the "cusp of famine."

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Ahmed made a desperate call for peace, urging all parties to act immediately. "Their excuses are unacceptable and their justifications are unconvincing, especially when the solutions are in plain sight," he said.

The civil war in Yemen, a vast country located on the southern edge of the Arabian Peninsula, began three years ago when Houthi Shiite revels overthrew President Abed-Rabbo Mansour Hadi's government.

A Saudi-led coalition, backed by the U.S., started a campaign months later against the Houthis. The rebels are backed by Iran, the arch-rival of Sunni majority Saudi Arabia. The coalition dislodged the rebels from much of the south, but the Houthis remain in control of the capital Sanaa and much of the north.

Caught in the crosshairs, thousands of Yemenis have been killed in the fighting, which has crippled health and security infrastructure. Suspected cholera cases in the nation swelled past 300,000 this week, according to the International Committee of the Red Cross.

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"Nearly 16 million people do not have access to adequate water, sanitation and hygiene," O'Brien told the council. Relief agencies are unable to deliver aid amid regular airstrikes and fighting on the ground, he added.

Cholera is a bacterial disease that causes severe diarrhea and dehydration. It's largely contracted by drinking contaminated water.

“This cholera scandal is entirely man-made by the conflicting parties and those beyond Yemen’s borders who are leading, supplying, fighting and perpetuating the fear and fighting,” O’Brien said.

The U.N. Security Council supports a "political solution as the only way to end the conflict in Yemen," China's Ambassador Liu Jieyi, president of the Security Council, said in a statement from council members.

"The council members do see eye to eye with each other on the gravity of the situation," Liu added.

Ahmed, who left for Cairo on Thursday to encourage negotiation between the fighting parties, told the council the humanitarian situation in Yemen is "appalling."

"The people are suffering from war, hunger and cholera, which has spread further during the last few weeks," he said. "History will not judge kindly those who have used the war to increase their influence or profit."

20 Yemeni civilians reported dead in air strike .
An air raid in Yemen has killed at least 20 people mostly from the same family, the UN and witnesses said Wednesday, the latest in a series of suspected strikes on civilians by a Saudi-led coalition. An Incredible $200 Intro Bonus Just For Using This Card Learn More Sponsored by NextAdvisor The attack on Tuesday afternoon hit a group of civilians in the Mawza district of the southwestern province of Taez, a statement by the UN refugee agency said.Residents said the attack was carried out by a warplane from the Saudi-led coalition fighting Shiite rebels in support of Yemen's internationally recognised government.

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