Yemen’s civil war compounding disasters

Maggie Michael
Associated Press

Cairo — More than two years of civil war have led to continually compounding disasters in Yemen.

The economy has been bombed into ruins. Hunger is widespread, and a new misery has been added: the world’s biggest current outbreak of cholera, with more than 200,000 cases.

In May, a senior U.N. humanitarian official declared that Yemen was site of “the world’s largest food security crisis.” More than 17 million desperately need food, and nearly 7 million of those are “one step away from famine.”

Last week came the newest horrible superlative. The World Health Organization said Yemen faced “the worst cholera outbreak in the world.” More than 1,400 people, a quarter of them children, have died of cholera the past two months.

Those nightmares come on top of other intertwined effects of the war.

More than 3 million people have been driven from their homes. More than 10,000 people have been killed. Health services have collapsed. Some 1 million civil servants have not been paid for months.

The cholera outbreak spread with startling speed after two months of heavy rains in the north, exacerbated by the pile-up of garbage in streets — trash collectors are among those who have gone unpaid — and the lack of access to clean water for millions of people.

Around 5,000 new cholera cases are reported daily. Aid officials fear it could pass a quarter million people by September. The U.N. is sending one million doses of vaccines.