A growing cholera crisis in Yemen, that has already killed more than 120 people with 11,000 suspected cases since April, could deteriorate rapidly unless donor governments immediately send the aid they pledged last month to help the struggling country, Oxfam warned today.
The warning comes after authorities in Yemen’s capital Sana’a declared on Sunday that the capital was in a state of health emergency due to the alarming increase of cholera cases.
Sajjad Mohamed Sajid, Oxfam’s Country Director in Yemen, said funds were needed immediately to stop the spread of cholera.
“Lives hang in the balance. Those countries that generously pledged money to help the embattled people of Yemen, at the UN donor conference in Geneva in late April, need to act now,” he said.
“This surge in cholera cases is yet another challenge for the Yemeni population who are already at breaking point, with millions facing famine after over two years of a brutal war. Only a fully funded and prompt humanitarian response will allow aid agencies to prevent cholera from killing more people.”
Since 27 April, there have been more than 11,000 suspected cases of cholera or acute watery diarrhoea across the country, with at least 124 related deaths, as of May, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). There are over 4,000 suspected cases and 14 people who died in Sana’a alone.
Cholera first broke out in Yemen in October 2016 with a crippled health system and only 45 percent of health facilities functioning because of the war. Before April’s upsurge, there had already been over 27,000 suspected cases of cholera, including 116 deaths.
According to WHO, 7.6 million people are risk of contracting the disease, especially those among the displaced and starving population.
Oxfam Australia Chief Executive Dr Helen Szoke said the $10 million of humanitarian funding the Australian Government provided in late April was a welcome start, but the Government needed to continue to closely monitor needs in Yemen and be prepared to commit additional funding this year.
“Yemen’s people, living in the Middle East’s poorest country, are facing the world’s worst humanitarian crisis and the emergency response has been critically under-funded,” Dr Szoke said.
Analysis completed by Oxfam calculated Australia’s fair share of the total funding needs in 2017 at $37 million (US$28 million) based on the size of the Australian economy.
“The humanitarian situation in Yemen continues to worsen. The risk of famine is also looming across the country and could become a reality without a massive international effort to fully fund the aid effort,” Dr Szoke said.
“Australia should continue to use all diplomatic channels at its disposal to push the parties to the conflict to agree on an immediate and permanent ceasefire, and to enable the safe and unimpeded delivery of humanitarian assistance.”
Donations to support Oxfam’s emergency responses in Yemen and around the world can be made online at oxfam.org.au/yemen or by calling 1800 034 034.
Notes to editors:
- Photos and stories from Oxfam’s cholera response Yemen are also available:
- Oxfam has delivering programs on water, sanitation and hygiene in four governorates since July 2015, which help prevent the spread of cholera. The delivery of clean water, the cleaning and chlorination of water sources along with the building of latrine toilets and the organisation of hygiene awareness sessions have benefitted 920,000 people, including 380,000 children.
- Oxfam has reached more than a million people in eight governorates of Yemen with water and sanitation services, cash assistance, food vouchers and other essential aid since July 2015.
- For more information on the food security situation in Yemen, go to Yemen: IPC Analysis – Acute Food Insecurity Current Situation Overview – March 2017