War-torn Yemen now struck by cholera outbreak

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A suspected cholera outbreak is spreading quickly in war-ravaged Yemen, with an estimated 3,000 to 5,000 new cases every day, the UN children’s agency said on Saturday.

Geert Cappelaere, the Middle East director of UNICEF, said in an interview with The Associated Press that 70,000 suspected cases of cholera have been reported in the past month in 19 of Yemen’s 22 governorates.

He voiced his concern that cholera cases could double every two weeks __ to 130,000 and then about 300,000 cases __ unless more aid is delivered.

He says the outbreak might “spread beyond Yemen” and should perturb all states neighboring Yemen where civil war is now in its third year.

“It is sad today, but we hope the cholera outbreak will the turning point in turning people’s attention to Yemen,” he said. “Cholera is not going to be stopped by any border.”

The fighting has killed more than 10,000 people, displaced 3 million others and devastated the country’s health sector and economy. Cappelaere says many patients can’t afford to travel to free clinics.

Just back from a five-day trip to the Yemeni capital Sanaa, Cappelaere said the outbreak is the latest horror faced by Yemeni children alongside growing starvation, militias’ recruitment of kids, and rising child marriages.

“Yemen is one of the worst places in the world to be a child,” he said.