Oxfam: Yemen cholera outbreak nearing largest in recorded history

By Daniel Uria  |  Sept. 30, 2017 at 2:03 PM
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Sept. 30 (UPI) -- Yemen's massive cholera outbreak could infect more than one million people by the end of the year, experts believe.

The World Health Organization's Regional Office for the Eastern Mediterranean reported 745,205 suspected cholera cases and 2,119 associated deaths in the country as of Wednesday.

British charity Oxfam sad the epidemic is already the fastest-growing in recorded history and is expected to soon surpass the 754,373 cases recorded in the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake in Haiti.

"Yemen is the world's worst humanitarian crisis and it is getting even worse. More than two years of war have created ideal conditions for the disease to spread," Oxfam's Humanitarian Director Nigel Timmins said. "The war has pushed the country to the edge of famine, forced millions from their homes, virtually destroyed the already weak health services and hampered efforts to respond to the cholera outbreak."

The United Nations and global children's advocacy group Save the Children warned of the ongoing cholera epidemic in early August while reinvigorating calls for international humanitarian aid.

Less than half of the country's medical centers remain functional following a civil war that engulfed the country in March 2015.

The severe damage to the medical system, along with 14.5 million people lacking regular access to clean water, allowed the deadly disease to spread since the epidemic began in March of this year.

The U.N estimated $2.1 billion is needed to prevent Yemen from becoming a completely failed state, but donor governments only provided half the amount at an April aid conference in Geneva.

"Yemen's tragedy is a man-made catastrophe for which all sides bear responsibility. Yet it is being fueled by deliberate political decisions in London, Washington and other world capitals," Timmins said.

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