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29 June 2017 Last updated 4 hours ago

Cholera death toll rises to 209 in Yemen: UNICEF

Yemeni men suspected of being infected with cholera receive treatment at a hospital in Sana'a on May 12, 2017. AFP Image Yemeni men suspected of being infected with cholera receive treatment at a hospital in Sana'a on May 12, 2017.

The United Nations children's agency (UNICEF) says some 209 people have been killed in recent weeks in a cholera epidemic that threatens the lives of many people in Yemen, which has been under Saudi airstrikes for more than two years.

The UN agency on Wednesday said the rise in cholera-related deaths was "alarming."

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said on Monday that the cholera outbreak had claimed the lives of 184 people since April 27, with 11,000 suspected cases across the country.

UNICEF's Yemen mission added that some 17,200 suspected cases of cholera had been reported across the impoverished country.

Mohammed al-Asaadi, the agency's Yemen spokesman, said some 3,000 new suspected cases were being reported every day.

UNICEF works alongside the ICRC and the World Health Organization (WHO) to coordinate with health authorities and relief groups in the Yemeni capital, Sana’a.

On Sunday, Yemen's Health Ministry declared a state of emergency in Sana'a in connection with the epidemic.

Young Yemenis suspected of being infected with cholera receive treatment at a hospital in Sana'a on May 6, 2017. (Photo by AFP)
International organizations, including the United Nations and the Red Cross, say the Saudi-led war on Yemen and an embargo against the country may be responsible for the cholera epidemic. The Saudi aggression has taken a heavy toll on the poor country’s facilities and infrastructure, destroying many hospitals, schools, and factories.

Since March 2015, the Saudi regime has been engaged in a brutal campaign against Yemen in an attempt to reinstall Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, the president who resigned and is a staunch ally of Riyadh. The campaign also aims to crush the Houthi Ansarullah movement. The Saudi regime has failed to achieve its objectives.

Latest tallies show that the Saudi war on Yemen has so far killed over 12,000 Yemenis and wounded thousands more.

Aid agencies say the country’s hospitals are struggling to cope with the increasing number of patients.

It is the second wave of cholera epidemic to hit Yemen in less than a year. Last October, the UN health agency announced the grim news of cholera outbreak in Yemen, and three weeks later the number of cholera cases across the country soared to hundreds.

The WHO now classifies Yemen as one of the worst humanitarian emergencies in the world.

The UN has said that two-thirds of the population are without access to safe drinking water. Cholera, which causes severe diarrhea and dehydration, is transmitted through contaminated drinking water and could prove fatal in up to 15 percent of untreated cases.