Saudi-Trump War on Yemen: Cholera Cases could Reach 130,000 in Two Weeks
By contributors | Jun. 3, 2017 |
arties to the conflict to prioritize the boys and girls of Yemen and put an end to the fighting,” said UNICEF official Geert Cappelaere.
Nearly 600 fatalities have already occurred among a total of 70,000 cholera cases in Yemen. Now, the United Nations Children’s Fund, UNICEF, has warned that the situation, already deemed as critical, is on the cusp of turning into a catastrophe.
Following his visit to the war-torn country, UNICEF Regional Director Geert Cappelaere stated, “Cholera is spreading incredibly fast in Yemen,” adding that the “number of suspected cases is expected to reach 130,000 within the next two weeks.”
Common Dreams reported that Cappelaere had witnessed harrowing scenes while in Yemen. These included visits to children who were barely alive and tiny babies weighing less than two kilos who were fighting for their lives at one of the handful of operating hospitals in the country.
Ironically, Cappelaere stated “they are the lucky ones. Countless children around Yemen die every day in silence from causes that can easily be prevented or treated like cholera, diarrhea or malnutrition.”
He reiterated that cholera is not the type of disease that needs a permit to cross borders or checkpoints, hinting to the fact that the disease may spread to other parts of the region. He also noted that cholera doesn’t “differentiate between areas of political control.”
Despite working in precarious conditions, health care workers in Yemen have been working around the clock to stave off the deaths resulting from cholera.
Meanwhile, UNICEF has been soliciting and collaborating with partners to respond to the epidemic which hit Yemen almost a month ago. In doing so, the organization has been able to provide safe drinking water to over 1 million people throughout Yemen and deliver over 40 tons of medical equipment, including medicine, oral rehydration salts, intravenous fluids and diarrhea disease kits.
However, Cappelaere has made the case clear that it’s not enough.
Though calling for greater international cooperation, he stressed that “most importantly, it is time for parties to the conflict to prioritize the boys and girls of Yemen and put an end to the fighting through a peaceful political agreement. This is the ultimate way to save the lives of children in Yemen, and to help them thrive.”
As if a cholera epidemic weren’t enough, Yemen, facing a two-year-long war of aggression led by Saudi Arabia and financed by the United States, is also suffering from famine. In one form or another, some 19 million people of its 28 million population are in need of humanitarian aid.
Adding insult to injury, less than half of the country’s health facilities are functioning.
In April, U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres appealed for a total of US$2.1 billion in aid to avoid the “starving of an entire generation” in Yemen. The request was made at the commencement of a donor session conference in Geneva.
“On average, a child under the age of five dies of preventable causes in Yemen every 10 minutes,” said Guterres, adding that, “this means 50 children in Yemen will die during today’s conference and all of those deaths could have been prevented.”
Even if aid is provided, getting assistance to the Yemeni people amid the war-torn country may prove to be a serious challenge. It has been reported that the Saudi-led coalition had previously targeted the country’s main port of Hodeidah, obstructing attempts to import much needed food, medical and fuel supplies.
https://www.juancole.com/2017/06/saudi- ... 30000.html
'Nearly 600 cholera deaths' in Yemen over past month
UNICEF says disease spreading fast, with number of suspected cases expected to reach 130,000 within the next two weeks.
The already dire situation for children is turning into a disaster [AJ Zeyad/Reuters]The already dire situation for children is turning into a disaster [AJ Zeyad/Reuters]
An estimated 70,000 cases of cholera have been reported by UNICEF in Yemen, with nearly 600 people dying over the past month, as the disease continues to spread at an alarming rate.
The UN agency, which provides humanitarian and developmental assistance to children and mothers in developing countries, said on Friday that the already dire situation for children in Yemen was quickly turning into a disaster.
"Cholera doesn't need a permit to cross a checkpoint or a border, nor does it differentiate between areas of political control," said Geert Cappelaere, UNICEF regional director, following his visit to the country, according to a statement on the agency's website.
WATCH: Yemen cholera outbreak - Hundreds dead in one month (1:34)
He gave warning that "the number of suspected cases is expected to reach 130,000 within the next two weeks" in the Arabian Peninsula country.
UNICEF said at least 10,000 cholera cases were reported in the past 72 hours alone.
Cappelaere described harrowing scenes of children who were barely alive - tiny babies weighing less than 2kg, fighting for their lives at one of the few functioning hospitals he visited.
"But they are the lucky ones. Countless children around Yemen die every day in silence from causes that can easily be prevented or treated like cholera, diarrhoea or malnutrition," he said.
Cappelaere said health workers are racing against time to prevent cholera from killing more children, despite not receiving their salaries in almost nine months.
Yemen has been torn apart by conflict since 2014, when Houthi fighters, allied with troops loyal to former leader Ali Abdullah Saleh, captured much of the country, including the capital, Sanaa.
A coalition assembled by Saudi Arabia launched an air campaign against the fighters in March 2015 to try to restore the internationally recognised government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi to power.
Since then, the conflict has killed more than 10,000 people, forced millions from their homes and pushed the country to the brink of famine, according to the United Nations.
UN officials say that without a pause in the conflict and without more financial resources, cholera will continue to spread across the country.
READ MORE: Millions of Yemenis face hunger during Ramadan
The UN has said that the unprecedented cholera outbreak in Yemen threatens the lives of 1.1 million malnourished pregnant women, who need immediate care and reproductive health services.
Almost a quarter of the Yemeni population needs urgent food assistance right now, according to the World Food Programme.
Millions of people in Yemen are on the brink of starvation [Al Jazeera]
With millions of people on the brink of famine, those who are malnourished and have weak immune systems are at acute risk of succumbing to cholera.
Only a few medical facilities are still functioning and two-thirds of the population are without access to safe drinking water, the UN has said.
Cholera is an acute diarrhoeal disease that is transmitted through contaminated drinking water. It can be fatal within hours if left untreated.
A cholera epidemic late last year petered out, but outbreaks are becoming more frequent.
Sanaa has been worst hit, followed by the surrounding province of Amanat al-Semah, WHO data has shown.
Cases have also been reported in other major cities including Hodeidah, Taiz and Aden.
About 17 million of Yemen's 26 million people lack sufficient food and at least three million malnourished children are in "grave peril", according to the UN.
http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/06/6 ... 57685.html
Yemen: Trump Expands U.S. Military Role in Saudi War as Yemenis Brace for Famine
The U.S. is also rapidly expanding military operations in Yemen. The U.S. has reportedly launched more than 49 strikes across the country this month—according to The New York Times, that’s more strikes than the U.S. has ever carried out in a single year in Yemen. While the U.S. airstrikes have been targeting suspected al-Qaeda operations in Yemen, The Wall Street Journal is reporting the U.S. is now offering even more logistical and intelligence support for the Saudi-led war against Yemen’s Houthi rebels, who are accused of being linked to Iran. More than 10,000 people have been killed since the U.S.-backed, Saudi-led bombing campaign in Yemen began two years ago this month. Meanwhile, The New York Times is reporting today that the Trump administration has approved the resumption of sales of precision-guided munitions to Saudi Arabia. President Obama froze some of these weapons sales last year due to concern about civilian casualties in Saudi Arabia’s expanding war in Yemen. We speak to Iona Craig, a journalist who was based in Sana’a from 2010 to 2015 as the Yemen correspondent for The Times of London.
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: We turn now to look at Yemen, where the U.S. is also rapidly expanding military operations. The U.S. has reportedly launched more than 49 strikes across the country this month—according to The New York Times, that’s more strikes than the U.S. has ever carried out in a single year in Yemen. While the U.S. airstrikes have been targeting suspected al-Qaeda operations in Yemen, The Wall Street Journal is reporting the U.S. is now offering even more logistical and intelligence support for the Saudi-led war against Yemen’s Houthi rebels, who are accused of being linked to Iran. More than 10,000 people have been killed since the U.S.-backed, Saudi-led bombing campaign in Yemen began two years ago this month. Meanwhile, The New York Times is reporting today that the Trump administration has approved the resumption of sales of precision-guided munitions to Saudi Arabia. President Obama froze some of these weapons sales last year due to concern about civilian casualties in Saudi Arabia’s expanding war in Yemen.
AMY GOODMAN: This all comes as the United Nations is warning Yemen is on the brink of famine. This is U.N. Emergency Relief Coordinator Stephen O’Brien.
STEPHEN O’BRIEN: Well, it’s not just the number of people who are food insecure, which represents about 14 million out of the 26 million or so Yemenis, which is an enormous number for any nation to have to bear; it’s the fact that we have seen an increase in severe acute malnourishment, particularly in young children and in lactating mothers. We have seen a very severe deterioration in the number of patients needing dialysis services, access to oxygen, and where we need to see more antibiotics being brought in and medical facilities made available. These are seriously deteriorating.
AMY GOODMAN: To talk more about the situation in Yemen, we go to London to speak with Iona Craig, a journalist who was based in Sana’a from 2010 to '15 as the Yemen correspondent for The Times of London. She was in Yemen again last month, where she reported on January's Navy SEAL raid that left 25 civilians and one U.S. Navy SEAL dead.
Iona, welcome back to Democracy Now! Talk about the situation on the ground in Yemen right now.
IONA CRAIG: Well, as you’ve already mentioned, the humanitarian situation is certainly getting worse. I went to several of the areas, remote areas, where some of the internally displaced people are finding it increasingly difficult to get access to food and even water. And then, on the military front, there is a stalemate on a lot of the—on the side of the ground war, whilst also a new offensive was actually launched on the Red Sea Coast whilst I was in Yemen in January, that then pushed a lot of the civilian population into these incredibly remote areas where there are no aid agencies to support them and to provide shelter and to provide food. So, across the country, really, it doesn’t matter which side of the front line you are, if you’re a civilian. People are finding it increasingly difficult to both access food and to be able to afford to pay for food, because many of the government employees have not been paid for more than six, seven months now, and so that reduces people’s capacity to even purchase goods, even when they are available, in areas where they’re not affected by the conflict.
So, really, there’s a massive sense of war weariness amongst the civilian population. People are just really desperate for this war to come to an end, obviously. But certainly, on the political side, there is no indication that is about to happen. And, in fact, the warring parties are not even willing to even engage or speak with the U.N. special envoy who is charged with trying to find a political resolution to the conflict. So, both on the military front, things are shifting slightly or have done, but certainly, on the humanitarian side, things are getting worse, with the prediction now of wheat supplies soon to run out in perhaps the coming weeks, or certainly in the next two months, that that is only going to get worse, as well.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: Well, Iona, as this humanitarian situation is worsening, the Trump administration is reportedly planning changes to the U.S. policy in Yemen. Could you tell us a little about the kinds of changes that are being considered and what their impact would be if they’re put into place?
IONA CRAIG: So, one thing that appears to have already been changed, from what we’ve heard, is Yemen now, or parts of Yemen, anyway, being regarded as areas of active hostility. Now, that’s quite a technical term, but essentially what it means is those selected areas are put on a war footing the same as Iraq and Afghanistan. So, previously, under the Obama administration, Yemen was considered an area outside of active hostility, so there were different protocols put in place to ensure the prevention of civilian casualties. And it meant that when drone strikes or airstrikes or raids were carried out, that there had to be a near certainty that there were no civilian casualties. Obviously, that didn’t always work. I have spent many years covering Yemen, and that included covering incidents of mass civilian casualties under the Obama administration. But now, when that changes to put in parts of the country into areas of active hostility, that near certainty basically gets chucked out of the window, and it means that those civilian casualties are kind of allowed and only have to be proportional. So, that’s obviously very concerning for the civilian population in Yemen. We’ve also seen more military activity, as you’ve already mentioned, in the form of airstrikes. So that’s more military activity, less oversight, because of the way the command structure is now—appears to have been changing, as well, in the sense that the military is going to be allowed to take more decisions on that level without the kind of micromanaging the Obama administration was always accused of, as well as moving these—removing these protocols to—that were supposed to, anyway, protect civilian lives.
In addition to that, now there is talk of the U.S. wanting to become more involved on the side of the Saudi-led coalition, who have, of course, been carrying out this aerial bombing campaign against the Houthi-Saleh forces, who are predominantly in northern Yemen, and have been carrying out this aerial bombing campaign against them, and ground war, since March 2015. Now, the U.S. wants to—has been—has put in a request to become more involved, particularly in an offensive that the Emiratis, the UAE, who are part of the Saudi-led coalition, are looking to launch on the Red Sea Coast, particularly on the port of Hudaydah, which is a vital supply line for northern Yemen, which is the most densely populated part of the country, which relies heavily on that route for the import of food.
Now, the most troubling part of this request to become more involved with the Saudi-led coalition appears to be because there has been—certainly come out from the White House, from the White House spokesman—this sense of conflating the Houthi rebels, who I mentioned, with Iran. Now, the Houthis have had support from Iran, and that appears to have been increasing, with specific military assistance and weapons to the Houthis over the last nine months. But to call them an Iranian proxy or to conflate them with Iran, it now appears that the—that this almost amounts to the U.S. wanting to start a proxy war with Iran in Yemen. And, of course, that is incredibly dangerous. It’s incredibly dangerous for the civilian population, who are already facing famine at the moment, and it’s incredibly dangerous because we don’t know what the reaction would be from Iran. That reaction may not just be in Yemen. It may be elsewhere in the region, where they’re also involved in wars—for example, in Syria. And that’s really an unknown quantity. The known quantity is that the civilian population in Yemen will certainly suffer as a consequence of that, if the Americans become more involved in the Saudi-led coalition’s efforts in the country.
https://www.democracynow.org/2017/3/30/ ... itary_role