THE port city of Hudaydah, in Yemen, which has been under intensive fire from pro-government forces for several weeks, could be “one air strike away from an unstoppable epidemic” of cholera, affecting thousands of civilians, the United Nations has warned.
The port is the primary gateway for humanitarian organisations to deliver basic supplies into the war-stricken country, the UN reports. Since the end of 2014, the city has been in the hands of Houthi rebels, who have been battling government forces supported by a Saudi-led coalition.
The coalition has been deploying fighter planes to the port since the violence escalated in 2015, and moved into the port city in June. “These air strikes are putting innocent civilians at extreme risk,” the UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Yemen, Lise Grande, said on Sunday.
She estimates that 75 per cent of the Yemeni population — 22 million people — require some form of humanitarian help or protection, including 8.5 million who are at risk of starvation. The water sanitation has also been compromised, she said, after air strikes last month damaged a sanitation facility and water station in Hudaydah, its main water supply.
“Cholera is already present in neighbourhoods across the city and governorate,” Ms Grande said. “Damage to sanitation, water, and health facilities jeopardises everything that we are trying to do. . . We could be one air strike away from an unstoppable epidemic.”
Christian Aid and its partners are among the humanitarian organisations working in Hudaydah and other hard-to-reach regions. The Emergency Programme Officer for Christian Aid, Jennifer Burns, said that the local water authorities were “no longer able to maintain or rehabilitate water and sanitation infrastructures. A ceasefire is desperately needed, and advocacy for greater access for humanitarians.
“The situation appears to be never-ending. The nature and scale of the humanitarian needs in Yemen at the moment are constantly increasing. With the recent increase in violence in the country, and the continued difficulties with access to resources and vulnerable communities, the situation is not showing any signs of improvement.”
Pope helps refugees in Yemen. Pope Francis donated €10,000 to 500 Yemeni refugees currently stranded on the South Korean island of Jeju, this week.
The sum was delivered to the Apostolic Nuncio to South Korea and Mongolia, Archbishop Alfred Xuereb. The refugees’ families have already received discounted rates from some hotels, and donations of food, blankets, and clothing organised by the Bishop of Jeju (Cheju), Bishop Peter Kang U-il, and his diocese.
The donation comes after the Pope urged world leaders to bring the parties of the Yemen civil war to the negotiating table to resolve the conflict, on World Refugee Day (News, 22 June). The UN has estimated that more than 10,000 people have been killed in Yemen since the conflict broke out in 2015, including 5200 civilians.