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Three Years Of Yemen War: “Let Us Not Fool Ourselves. Cholera Is Going To Come Back”: United Nations

AMMAN Jordan

Yemen Rainy Season Approaches; Time Is Lost as Aid Is Delayed; “Peanuts” Jibe At Trump; Three Years Of War Is “More Than Enough”

The United Nations has warned that Yemen is likely to be hit by another cholera outbreak within a few weeks.

As the third anniversary of the outbreak of the country’s civil war approaches, Geert Cappelaere, UNICEF Middle East and North Africa director, said (March 25) “Let us not fool ourselves. Cholera is going to come back.”

Fighting between a Saudi-led Arab coalition and Iranian-backed Houthi rebels has killed more than 10,000 people and caused over 40,000 casualties in Yemen since March 2015. Water networks, power plants, airports, bridges, roads, schools and health facilities have all been destroyed in the fighting.

Cappelaere told a press briefing in Amman, Jordan, that “In a few weeks from now the rainy season will start again and without a huge and immediate investment, cholera will again hit Yemeni children”.

“More than 1 million children were infected by cholera last year due to lack of access to water and vaccination…one child every 10 minutes (dies) from preventable diseases in Yemen”.

The UN describes Yemen as the "worst humanitarian crisis in the world", with about 8.4 million Yemenis facing imminent famine as well as battling cholera and diphtheria outbreaks.

Why Is Aid Taking So Long?

The UNICEF official expressed frustration at delays in delivery of aid to the war-torn country: “Last year, over a million people were affected by cholera or acute watery diarrhea. We know how to prevent it: access to drinking water, cholera vaccination. Well, we have spent weeks, months, negotiating whether we could get the cholera vaccination done. I am very happy that last week, the authorities agreed, “yes, you can do it” but we have lost precious time”.

“We had to negotiate – just imagine, a country where we are working day and night to guarantee that children, that families have access to drinking water. Pumping it from deep underground. But for that, we need fuel. But if you don’t let in fuel, then we have the alternative to use solar power”.

“But some parties refused to allow in even solar panels. Even questions about us importing pipes for water…We are losing time, energy and money on conversations that should never happen. Access to humanitarian supplies, supplies that are needed to deliver against the acute needs of the population cannot and shall not be negotiated”.

“Peanuts” Jibe At US President

"UNICEF is asking for 2018 alone for its humanitarian program close to $350 Million USD”, Cappeaere said at the press briefing. “That is peanuts compared to the billions of dollars that are currently invested in fighting war. We are asking for peanuts”.

The US and UK provide the Saudi coalition with logistical support and military equipment for the conflict.

US President Donald Trump welcomed Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman at the White House last week and said Saudi Arabia would be spending "peanuts" by purchasing $12.5 Billion USD on US military hardware.

OXFAM Welcomes Appointment Of New UN Envoy To Yemen, Calls For Reinvigorated Peace Efforts

International NGO OXFAM also joined calls for a lasting peace in Yemen. A March 26 press release describes people in Yemen “struggling to survive on dirty water and meager portions of bread three years after a Saudi-led coalition carried out its first airstrike on the country in its war with the Houthis”.

“Families in remote areas of Amran governorate in the north west of the country told Oxfam they could only afford half a bag of wheat a month and had to walk three kilometers two or three times a day to fetch untreated water from a well. Several women told Oxfam they were struggling to make ends meet and had no money for clothes or other supplies after their husbands had been killed in the conflict”.

Colette Fearon, Oxfam's Deputy Humanitarian Director said: “Three years on from the eruption of this conflict, the country is teetering on the brink of famine. Families are facing a daily struggle just to get hold of the bare essentials like food and water”.

“Three years of war is more than enough. Too many bombs have been dropped and shells fired, too many people have gone hungry, too many lives have been lost. All sides need to call time on this war. The appointment of a new UN envoy to Yemen is a chance to push for a ceasefire and put the country on the road to a lasting peace.”

“Despite peace talks in 2016, it appears that parties to the conflict have continued to pursue a military strategy. The appointment last month of Martin Griffiths as the new UN envoy to Yemen, and recent UN Security Council calls for moves towards a ceasefire and to ensure essential goods are given free passage, present an opportunity for the international community to reinvigorate efforts to achieve peace”.

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