Patel: spread of cholera in Yemen must be stopped

15 Aug 17

The international community must act now to stop the spread of cholera in war-torn Yemen, the UK’s international development secretary has said.

Priti Patel has called on nations around the globe to support efforts to tackle the epidemic, which her department says is the worst recorded outbreak in a single year.

Nearly 2,000 people have died since the cholera outbreak began at the end of April, according to the UN, and an estimated 500,000 people have been affected. 

The UN World Health Organisation has blamed a collapsing health system in the country, lack of clean water and a build-up of human waste, which is not being collected in major cities. 

The UK is spending £8m of its £139m budget for Yemen on providing chlorine tablets and hygiene kits for half a million people and restoring medical facilities to 250,000 people affected by the illness.

Patel said: “Yemen is on the brink of a catastrophic disaster if the world continues to close its eyes to the urgent three quarters of people across the country desperately need.

“The response by the international community is the only hope Yemeni people have to survive.”

Yemen is one of the Arab world's poorest countries and has been devastated by a war between forces loyal to the internationally-recognised government of president Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi and those allied to the Houthi rebel movement.

The war has been ongoing since 2015 and the conflict has claimed the lives of thousands, injured many more and displaced millions of Yemen’s 28 million inhabitants, according to the UN.

The Shia-led Houthi movement has been attacked in a bombing campaign by Saudi Arabia and eight other mostly Sunni Arab states.

Anti-war groups such as the Campaign Against Arms Trade have criticised the UK government for its sales of arms to Saudi Arabia, worth £3.3bn, since the conflict began.

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