Yemen cholera cases to reach 'one million' by end of 2017
Cholera cases in Yemen could reach one million by the end of the year, making it the fasting-growing epidemic of the disease in history.
The collapse of Yemen's infrastructure following more than two years of a Saudi-led war has impeded the containment of the treatable disease, which has killed over 2,000 people since late April.
"The situation has really evolved in a very dramatic way and I think that it's nothing short of a catastrophe," Alexandre Faite, the head of the Red Cross delegation in Yemen, told a news briefing in Geneva.
The death rate for cholera victims has dropped to less than 0.3 percent, the ICRC said, but the "health sector is really on its knees in Yemen ... the health staff is on its knees as well because they are not paid," Faite added.
The Red Cross is now for the first time providing health workers with food parcels amid a shortage in essential supplies.
"In terms of access to even water, electricity, there isn't a power grid in the main cities in Yemen. Without the ICRC and other organizations fixing (pumping stations) there wouldn't be any running water in Sanaa," he said, according to Reuters.
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A ship from Karachi carrying 500 metric tonnes of rice is due to arrive in the port of Hodeidah on October 7, the first ICRC shipment to arrive there since February.
Most ICRC supplies, such as medical aid and insulin, arrive in cargo planes to Sanaa as the main Hodeidah port is damaged.
Other goods arrive by land convoys or ship from Jordan, Oman and Dubai.
The ICRC called on all sides to open Sanaa airport to allow commercial flights which could bring essential supplies to the war-torn country.
Since 2015, Yemen has seen a devastating war between the Saudi-backed internationally recognised government and Iran-backed Houthi rebels who took over the capital the previous September.
International rights groups have accused the coalition of bombing civilian areas including public gatherings, markets, hospitals and residential areas across Yemen since the aerial campaign against Houthi rebels began in 2015. Both sides have been accused of war crimes and blocking aid to civilians.
UN figures suggest more than 10,000 people have been killed and thousands more wounded since Saudi Arabia and its allies intervened on behalf of the internationally recognised government.