Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

UNICEF: 11,000 Cases of Diarrhea Reported in Yemen | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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A woman and her children, displaced by the war in northwestern Yemen, are pictured next to their makeshift hut on the pavement of a street in the Red Sea port city of Hodeidah, Yemen May 15, 2017. REUTERS/Abduljabbar Zeyad

New York- UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) announced that over 11,000 cases of diarrhea have been reported across the country, with more than 250 confirmed cases of cholera. The number of deaths caused by cholera and acute diarrhea reached 186 in the country.

Deteriorating health systems and shortage in water supply are raising concerns for health, particularly for the youngest Yemenis. There are about 2.2 million Yemeni children suffering from severe malnutrition and a cholera outbreak poses a risk on their lives. About 7.6 million people in Yemen are living in areas considered high risk for cholera transmission.

UNICEF spokesperson Christophe Boulierac calls the situation a “public health crisis in the making,” adding that at least 130 people have died so far this year.

The UN agency and partners are providing diarrheal disease kits, oral rehydration salts, and water treatment tablets, but the outbreak “is more aggressive” than the last wave in October 2016.

According to the UN, hospitals and health centers are struggling to deal with huge numbers of infected citizen. The organization warned that the situation could get worse because of shortage of doctors and nurses and medical supplies.

Abductees’ Mothers’ Association (AMA) accused Houthi forces and troops of former President Ali Abdullah Saleh of abducting and torturing their children.

AMA stated that cholera is spreading within the prisons as well and Houthis are not giving the prisoners the medical care needed to recover from this epidemic.

The association added that the situations are dire inside the prisons because there are no clean drinkable water and water needed for personal hygiene.

AMA urged human rights organizations to help transport the ill abductees to hospitals where they can receive proper care. It also held Houthi and Saleh forces full responsibility for the safety of their children.

In a related matter, International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) stated that the suffering of thousands of families who have had no contact with relatives detained in relation to the conflict in Yemen must end.

“We urgently call on all sides, including states supporting parties on the ground, to ensure unconditional and immediate access to people detained in relation with the conflict,” ICRC’s global Director of Operations Dominik Stillhart said on Tuesday.

He reported that hundreds of families have approached ICRC on the issue, some of which have been without news from their loved ones for years.

Enforced disappearances and allegations of ill-treatment and deteriorating conditions further add to the plight of detainees and to families’ anxiety, he added. Such visits are a non-negotiable humanitarian imperative, Stillhart said. They also would be an important contribution to the building of mutual trust among Yemeni communities.

ICRC last year visited more than 11,000 detainees in Yemen.

“However, many conflict-related detainees remain off-limits in many locations. This has to change in the best interest of all sides,” Stillhart said.