Yemen sits at the southern tip of the Arabian Peninsula, with Oman to the east and Saudi Arabia to the north. The nation is the Arab world’s poorest country and is facing a horrifying situation that is largely unknown to the rest of the world. They’re in the midst of not one crisis, but two.
A brutal and complex war escalated in March 2015 and is tearing Yemen apart. Over the past two years, airstrikes and fighting have killed more than 7,600 people – an average of 70 casualties a day. More than half of these are civilians. On top of this, three million have been forced to flee their homes and about 17 million people are going hungry. Of these, seven million are starving and on the brink of famine.
Stemming from this crisis came another. A surge of cholera cases have swept the country, so far killing 332 people and infecting another 32,000 in the last month according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).
“The speed of the resurgence of this cholera epidemic is unprecedented,” Nevio Zagaria, WHO country representative for Yemen, said. There could be as many as 300,000 cases in Yemen within six months, he warned. The disease has spread to 19 of Yemen’s 22 governorates.
Cholera is a severe diarrhoeal disease that is transmitted through drinking dirty water contaminated with the Vibrio cholera bacteria. Most of those who contract it will show only mild symptoms that are treatable, but in some cases those infected will get severe watery diarrhoea and can die from dehydration within just a few hours.
Yemen is particularly vulnerable to the disease. The country’s health system has been absolutely crippled by conflict. Less than half of the health facilities are functioning, and according to a New Scientist Article, doctors in Yemen have not been paid since September. On top of that, two-thirds of the population lack access to safe drinking water which increases the likelihood of the disease spreading and being contracted, and worsens the risk of dehydration for those infected.
It’s a race against time to save lives.
7.6 million people are at risk of contracting this disease, especially those among the displaced and starving population.
Nearly 20,000 people benefit from Oxfam’s water project in Al-Manjorah camp, Yemen. Every day, 264 cubic metres of water are trucked in, and it remains the camp’s only water source. Oxfam is working on a water network project so the camp can be permanently supplied. Here, Farah*, 8, collects water for her and her family. Photo: Moayed Al.Shaibani/Oxfam
Thanks to your support, this is how Oxfam is helping:
- Since July 2015 Oxfam has reached more than one million people in eight governorates of Yemen
- We have provided clean water and sanitation services for more than 924,000 people by utilising water trucks, repairing water systems, delivering filters and jerry cans, building latrines and organising cleaning campaigns
- In Al-Hudaydah , Amran, Hajjah and Taiz governorates, Oxfam is providing over 205,000 people with cash, enabling them to buy food at the local market or livestock so they get a possible source of income
- Oxfam is also supporting over 166,000 people in the southern governorates of Abyan, Aden, Lahj and Al-Dhale with water, hygiene and sanitation services
- 35,000 individuals took part in our cash for work programmes
- In response to the cholera outbreak, Oxfam is delivering programmes on water, sanitation and hygiene in four governorates, which is helping prevent the disease from spreading further. The delivery of clean water, the cleaning and chlorination of water sources along with the building of latrines and the organization of hygiene awareness sessions have benefitted 920,000 people, including 380,000 children.
These crises in Yemen are happening now, and the conflict that is keeping people hungry and exposing them to disease is not showing any signs of relenting. The only way Oxfam can reach more people and save more lives is with your help. Please, be a part of the solution:
*name has been changed