cholera

September 24-October 4: US Congress takes up war powers bill, MSF withdraws from al-Dhali'

9/24

Save the Children reported, using data from ACLED (Armed Conflict Location and Event Data), that at least 685 civilians have been killed in Yemen between June and the end of August, with 51% of these casualties (about 349 civilians) attributed to the Hudaydah campaign alone.

9/25

President Trump announced his intention to appoint Christopher Paul Henzel to replace Matthew Tueller as US Ambassador to Yemen. The American embassy has been based in Saudi Arabia since the Houthi-Saleh coup in early 2015.

Human Rights Watch released a report detailing cases of hostage-taking orchestrated by the Houthis, which includes inhumane detention, torture, and murder.

August 1-6: Attacks in Hudaydah continue; coalition ties with al-Qaeda revealed

8/1

After facing criticism and threats for attacking vessels in the Red Sea, the Houthis announced a halt on naval military activity. The ceasefire will take place from August 1 to 15, according to Houthi leader Mohammed al-Houthi, who said this period could be extended with the cooperation of the coalition.

War and Water Insecurity in Yemen

Yemen faces many problems in the years to come; often forgotten is the increasing threat of climate change. The country has long faced issues of water insecurity and scarcity, desertification and overgrazing, but these issues are set to get worse given the global climate and, even more so, the war in Yemen.

November 27-December 4; Former President Saleh is Killed Amidst Violence Between Houthi and Saleh Forces

11/27

The UN, after completing a delivery of 1.9 million diphtheria vaccines shortly after the Saudi-led coalition reopened Yemen’s airspace to humanitarian flights, stated that the successful delivery through the San’a airport “cannot be a one-off,” because nearly every Yemeni child is in need of further humanitarian assistance.

November 6-13; Coalition Institutes Full Blockade on Yemen, Exacerbates Humanitarian Crisis

11/6

In a phone call on Saturday, President Trump and King Salman discussed the attempted Houthi missile attack on the Riyadh airport, and Trump stated that he supported selling more military equipment to Saudi Arabia.

October 3-9: UN report blacklists coalition & Houthis, US and Yemen claim progress against AQAP

10/3

AP reports that the World Health Organization could have acted faster and sent more vaccines sooner in order to stave off the worst of Yemen’s cholera crisis.

ReliefWeb reports that FAO and the World Bank are launching a $36 million initiative to combat the famine conditions in Yemen, aiding 630,000 and strengthening rural communities.

The Intercept reports that four members of the House of Representatives will force a vote on whether the US should continue its military involvement in Yemen’s war, where it supports the Saudi- and Emirati-led intervention.

August 28-September 5: Floods Increase Rate of Cholera; NGOs Urge Independent International Inquiry in Yemen

8/28

Saudi Arabia campaigned at the United Nations in an attempt to emphasize its humanitarian role in Yemen, stating that the country has donated over $8 billion to assist Yemen. Saudi Arabia is concerned about the UN child rights blacklist and a possible UN human rights inquiry into crimes in Yemen.

July 10 - July 16 : Cholera Continues to Wreak Havoc in Yemen

July 10

Yemen’s cholera cases have passed the 300,000 mark, according to the ICRC. Though the daily growth rate of the epidemic has halved, outbreaks in new areas have spread rapidly. Yemen’s economic collapse means over 30,000 healthcare workers remain unpaid, and the UN has stepped in with “incentive” payments as part of an emergency campaign.

Doctors Without Borders published an article detailing the conditions of a hospital in Abs as it attempts to deal with the cholera epidemic.

A UK high court ruled that arms sales to Saudi Arabia are lawful despite concerns from multiple human rights organizations.

UN humanitarian leaders address UNSC meeting on Yemen crisis

The United Nations Security Council convened on Wednesday for a meeting to address the ongoing conflict and humanitarian crisis in Yemen. United Nations Under-Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Stephen O’Brien addressed the Council, emphasizing the food security crisis and the cholera outbreak in Yemen. He stressed that the Yemeni health system has collapsed, pointing to the facts that 65% of health facilities in the country have closed and that 30,000 health workers have not received their salaries in nearly a year. He also noted that UNOCHA’s Yemen Humanitarian Response Plan is only 33% funded. Finally, he called for more serious international action to hold the parties to the conflict accountable for violations of international humanitarian law and to demand the opening of the airport in San’a and the protection of the port in al-Hudaydah

May 30-June 5: Government blocks press access; intra-coalition skirmish in Aden

Tuesday, May 30

Adam Baron of the European Council on Foreign Relations writes about the state of affairs in southern Yemen, and listed three actions that European governments can take to help stabilize Yemen. The first is reaching out to the secessionists in the south of Yemen, and recognizing them as key players in the conflict. The second is to bolster law and order in the city of Aden.Finally, Europe should increase coordination with the Gulf States on both stabilization and mediation efforts.

UN Relief Chief and Mwatana Chair address UNSC meeting on Yemen

Stephen O’Brien, the United Nations Under-Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, delivered a statement to the United Nations Security Council during last Tuesday’s Council meeting on Yemen. O’Brien spoke of the humanitarian catastrophe in Yemen, warning that the situation there had become the world’s largest food security crisis and that lack of access to food and clean water created the conditions for the cholera epidemic. While he lauded the United Nations and its partners, along with medical personnel in Yemen, for their work to stem the spread of cholera and other diseases, he criticized the parties to the conflict for putting their own interests above the needs of the Yemeni people, explaining that both lack of access to food and disease are, in the case of Yemen, man-made phenomena that could be avoided if the parties were willing to negotiate an end the conflict.

May 23-29: Cholera on the rise, US kills civilians in Marib raid

Tuesday, May 23

The Associated Press reports that US special operations forces raided a suspected al-Qaeda hideout in the al-Sarim area of Marib Governorate. US Central Command claimed that at least seven militants were killed, possibly more. Later, it came to light that at least five civilians were killed, including an elderly man and a teenaged boy. It was the second publicly-acknowledged ground raid US forces have conducted in Yemen this year. The first, conducted in January, killed 25 civilians and sparked international outrage.

May 15-23: US signs arms deal with Saudi Arabia, pro-secessionist protest in Aden

Monday, May 15, 2017

PRI’s Stephen Snyder reports on Yemen’s current cholera outbreak, noting that the spread of the disease has been exacerbated by Saudi airstrikes on hospitals and blockades that block the flow of medical supplies into the country. The report also emphasizes that the disease is preventable and treatable, but that the destruction of civilian infrastructure and unpaid government salaries have made preventing and addressing outbreaks more difficult .

May 2-8: Tensions between Hadi and UAE, cholera outbreaks threaten public health

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Reuters reports that Saudi deputy crown prince Mohammed bin Salman has said that the offensive on Hudaydah that Saudi Arabia wants to launch would have heavy casualties for both Saudi-backed forces and their Houthi adversaries. The Washington Post, meanwhile, discusses the concern among U.S. lawmakers over the possibility of an attack on the port city.

AP focuses on statements by Prince Mohammed bin Salman dismissing the possibility of dialogue with Iran as unrealistic and stating that Saudi Arabia would not wait “until there becomes a battle in Saudi Arabia, so we will work so that it becomes a battle for them in Iran….”

Cholera outbreak deepens Yemen's misery

We're pleased to feature a guest post by Ibrahim Daair on the recent outbreak of cholera in Yemen, where the healthcare system has already been devastated by war and poverty. This article originally appeared on The Conflict Comment blog. This post does not necessarily reflect the positions of the YPP; YPP staff have not attempted to fact-check or independently verify the information reported herein. With the war leaving many of the country’s hospitals in ruins, a cholera outbreak could push Yemen’s health system over the brink, further shattering the already traumatised country.

Government officials in Northern Yemen have confirmed several cases of cholera, and this news cannot come at a worse time for the country, already one of the world’s poorest, as it undergoes a violent war involving neighbouring Saudi Arabia.

The majority of cholera cases have been reported in Sana’a. The World Health Organization (WHO), citing the Sana’a based Ministry of Health, reported 11 confirmed cases in the capital.

WHO officials also stated that the disease does not appear to be spreading. However, local media, quoting medical sources, also contained reports of two children contracting cholera in the southern governorate of Lahj. Local government officials were quick to deny the reports, claiming they were cases of food poisoning.

Cholera, which causes severe dysentery and vomiting, can develop in areas with poor sanitation and is contracted by coming into contact with contaminated water sources. Without effective treatment the disease can have a mortality rate of up to 90 per cent.

Any disease outbreak will undoubtedly put additional strain on a health system struggling to cope with the effects of war. The UN estimates that around 10,000 civilians have been killed due to the conflict; the majority by Saudi airstrikes.

A coalition of Arab states led by Saudi Arabia began a bombing campaign in March last year after Ansarullah (Houthis) and forces loyal to former president Saleh took control of large territories across Yemen, forcing the internationally recognized government of president Hadi into exile in Saudi Arabia.

Yemen has been in a state of upheaval since 2011, when popular protests forced president Saleh from power. Saleh handed power to his deputy Abd-Rabbuh Mansour Hadi in a deal which gave him immunity from prosecution. The deal, sponsored by the GCC states, was seen as giving Saleh the ability to wreck Yemen’s transition toward democracy.

Yemen’s hospitals have not been immune to the war. Several have been targeted throughout the country. In August, a Saudi airstrike hit an MSF run facility in the North-West of the country. The attack killed 19 and destroyed the last functioning hospital in the area.

Julien Harneis, UNICEF’s Yemen representative, said ‘Children are at a particularly high risk if the current cholera outbreak is not urgently contained especially since the health system in Yemen is crumbling as the conflict continues.’

Furthermore, the medical situation is worsened by the nation-wide blockade enforced by the Saudi-led coalition on the country. By barring all sea and air traffic into Yemen, the Saudis aimed to turn public opinion against the rebels and pressure Ansarullah and Saleh loyalists to retreat from the capital.

However, more than a year on, it has had devastating effects on the country’s medical system, making it extremely difficult to import medication. Hospitals throughout the country have reportedly had to turn away patients because they lack the capacity to treat them.

The blockade is being blamed for an increasingly wide-spread humanitarian crisis. Reports indicate that up to 80 per cent of Yemen’s population is in need of humanitarian assistance, while malnutrition is affecting up to 1 in 3 children.

In addition, Yemen has suffered chronic water shortages as a result of poor management and inefficient infrastructure to conserve drinking water. Yet despite the on-going war, farmers are still producing the local cash crop. The production of Qat, a leaf that acts as a mild stimulant when chewed, consumes a large amount of water. With Qat and mismanagement already putting pressure on water resources, the war is exacerbating the situation by making it difficult for many to access clean drinking water. A vital resource in combatting the spread of cholera.

This week, the Saudi-led coalition was accused of bombing a funeral hall in the capital Sana’a which led to the deaths and injury of hundreds of attendees. After initially denying any involvement, the Saudis have apparently accepted responsibility in the wake of an international outcry. The scale of the bombing led hospitals in the capital to issue a call for volunteers to donate blood to critically injured survivors.

UN secretary-General Ban Ki Moon labelled the attack ‘an outrageous violation of international humanitarian law’ and called for a full inquiry. He also condemned all sides for attempting to ‘hide behind the fog of this war’.

The UN has organized a number of peace talks in a bid to end the war. The latest round of negotiations in Kuwait earlier this year fell through after Saleh’s party, the GPC, and Ansarullah unilaterally announced the formation a new government.

Last month the Saudi backed government in exile announced that it would move the central bank to Aden, the temporary capital. The bank was seen as the last functioning non-partisan bureaucracy keeping the economy from completely collapsing.

On the other side, the Houthis and Saleh are not willing to surrender their weapons nor allow the exiled government to return to power in Sana’a.

As the fighting continues the financial cost of the war is mounting on Saudi Arabia. The unintended length of the war coupled with a persistent slump in oil prices and growing financial crisis are putting heavy pressure on the Saudi monarchy to get out of the Yemeni quagmire. The quickest way out for the Saudis would be to drop Hadi and allow the formation of a unity government without him. However, this would involve a serious loss of face that the kingdom’s rulers cannot tolerate.

For any meaningful peace to be negotiated all sides must move away from their increasingly entrenched positions and think in terms of their, and Yemen’s, future interests. A long protracted war will only serve to further destroy the country and diminish public support for either side.

The current war is not the only concern to bear in mind: “The only thing keeping the country’s ‘two sides’ together are shared enemies” said Adam Baron, a journalist on Yemen. Those divisions have not gone away, rather the war has simply placed them on the back burner.

During his tenure as president Saleh fought six wars against the Houthis. For their part the wide confederation fighting alongside the Hadi government includes local tribes, Al-Qaeda and secessionist elements; many of whom are also deeply opposed to Hadi. In the event of the current war coming to an end, Yemenis will still face the daunting task of keeping the peace between the many heavily armed sides.

The cholera outbreak is the latest in a long line of events pushing the Yemeni population to its limits. Unless steps are taken to stop this outbreak in its tracks, the addition of a serious medical crisis could turn Yemen into an even greater humanitarian catastrophe.