Saudi Arabia has donated $66.7 million to UNICEF and the World Health Organization to combat cholera in Yemen. Stephen O’Brien, the United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, said Saturday the number of suspected cholera cases in Yemen surpassed 200,000 this week.
UNICEF Director Anthony Lake and WHO chief Margaret Chan said in a statement Saturday, "we are now facing the worst cholera outbreak in the world,” with an average of 5,000 new cases every day.
O’Brien said the deterioration in the humanitarian situation in Yemen over the past two years with “6.8 million people now a step away from famine and 1,300 deaths associated with the current cholera epidemic was preventable.” The cholera epidemic comes amid more than two years of intensified conflict in Yemen headed up by a Saudi-led coalition that has killed nearly 5,000 civilians.
O’Brien said, “As critical as humanitarian aid is at this juncture, the only lasting solution to horrors like cholera and famine is to end the conflict.” Cholera is an extremely virulent disease that can cause severe acute watery diarrhea, taking between 12 hours and five days for a person to show symptoms after ingesting contaminated food or water. Cholera affects both children and adults and can kill within hours if untreated.