Yemen cholera cases 'could reach 130,000 in two weeks'
The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) has warned that Yemen's cholera outbreak is critically endangering the country's children, with the number of expected cases expected to reach 130,000 in two weeks.
The disease has already claimed around 600 lives in the war-torn country, with close to 70,000 cases of cholera already reported, the agency said on Friday.
"Cholera doesn't need a permit to cross a checkpoint or a border, nor does it differentiate between areas of political control," said UNICEF's Regional Director Geert Cappelaere following his visit to the country.
"Cholera is spreading incredibly fast in Yemen […] The number of suspected cases is expected to reach 130,000 within the next two weeks," he warned.
Cappelaere reported seeing children severly afflicted by the illness, including infants weighing less than two kilos, battling for life in the hospitals he visited.
"But they are the lucky ones. Countless children around Yemen die every day in silence from causes that can easily be prevented or treated like cholera, diarrhoea or malnutrition," he said.
Due to shortages in medical supplies caused by blockades and sieges by both Saudi-led military coalition - backing President Abd Rabbo Mansoor Hadi - and Houthi militants, hospitals that are still functioning are struggling to cope.
UNICEF has said it is working with its partners to provide clean water for around 1 million people across Yemen, having already delivered over 40 tonnes of medical equipment.
Yemen has been engulfed in civil war since September 2014 when Houthi rebels swept into the capital of Sanaa and overthrew Hadi's internationally-recognised government.
In March 2015, a Saudi-led coalition - backed by the United States - began a campaign against Houthi rebels allied with ousted President Ali Abdullah Saleh. Since then, the Iranian-backed Houthis have been dislodged from most of the south, but remain in control of Sanaa and much of the north.