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World’s Worst Cholera Outbreak Hits Yemen, UN Says

“We are now facing the worst cholera outbreak in the world,” a statement from UNICEF and the World Health Organization warned on Saturday. 

The outbreak of cholera in Yemen has infected 200,000 people in the last two months according to the release, put out by UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake and WHO Director-General Margaret Chan. 

Cholera, a deadly water-borne bacterial disease that causes diarrhea, can usually be prevented with clean water or treated with proper hydration, according to WHO. But in poor war-torn countries like Yemen, the illness is proving to be fatal, especially for children. 

The disease has killed 1,300 people, one-quarter of whom are children, since the outbreak earlier this year. 

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“This deadly cholera outbreak is the direct consequence of two years of heavy conflict,” the statement said. 

Since 2015, ongoing conflict between Houthi rebels and government forces have resulted in 7,600 deaths, primarily from airstrikes. Conflict has also left 70% of the population in need of humanitarian assistance, the BBC reports

Now, WHO and UNICEF said that 14.5 million people are cut off from clean water and sanitation and lack access to proper nutrition as a result of conflict in Yemen, which has increased the spread of cholera to every region the country, according to the statement. 

Aid workers are rapidly attempting to bring clean water and hydration to those infected but hospitals are overcrowded and clean water is in short supply, the BBC reports

Some 30,000 health workers across the country have also not been paid for treating and caring for sick cholera patients in 10 months, the statement said

The organizations are asking the government to pay health workers and, above all, to end the ongoing conflict. They have also asked for more support in preventing further spread of the cholera outbreak. 

“We call on authorities in Yemen to strengthen their internal efforts to stop the outbreak from spreading further,” the statement said