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    ADEN, Yemen, Battles between the Saudi-backed Yemeni government forces and the Shiite Houthi gunmen, intensified over the control of a strategic military base in the country’s south-west.Local army commanders, in the country’s coastal city of Mocha, to…

  • News in Brief 21 May 2017 (AM) – Geneva

    Cholera outbreak in Yemen now the world’s largest: WHO

    Thousands of Yemenis become infected with cholera and watery diarrhoea every day, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Friday, in a call to step up efforts to stop the epidemic.

    In the three months since the disease began to spike in the country, there have been 360,000 patients and more than 1,800 deaths.

    WHO says it’s the world’s largest cholera outbreak.

    Here’s the UN agency’s spokesperson, Fadela Chaib:

    “Every day we have 5,000 more Yemenis falling sick with symptoms of acute watery diarrhoea or choleraCholera also, as you may know, attacks the most vulnerable, for this current outbreak in cholera, children are paying the highest price. Children aged under 15 account for 41 per cent of all suspected cases.”

    Cholera is transmitted after coming into contact with dirty water or food.

    The infection is easily treated but conflict has left more than 17 million Yemenis in need of food aid and destroyed vital infrastructure � less than half of Yemen’s medical centres are open.

    WHO’s priority is to “scale up” access to clean water and sanitation facilities in the 21 governorates where infection has taken hold, spokesperson Fadela Chaib told reporters in Geneva.

    She added that despite a possible decline in the number of suspected cholera cases in the three worst-affected governorates, the epidemic is far from over.

    Yemen airstrike destroyed a house of straw, says UN human rights office OHCHR

    Staying with Yemen, an airstrike there has left at least 18 civilians dead after targeting a “makeshift house of straw”, the UN said on Friday.

    The UN human rights office OHCHR blamed “Arab Coalition Forces” for the attack in the village of Al Asheerah in Taizz Governorate on Tuesday.

    Yemen has been ripped apart by fighting between Coalition forces loyal to exiled president Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi and Houthi rebels, who back former head of state Ali Abdullah Saleh.

    Rupert Colville is a spokesperson for OHCHR; he said that the victims had been displaced by other airstrikes three months ago:

    “According to witnesses who fled the area and were interviewed by one of our monitors in Yemen, the airstrike destroyed a makeshift house which was made of straw or some similar type of material, killing all three families who were inside it at the time. At least 18 civilians in all, including 10 children and two women, are believed to have died in the incident.”

    It remains unclear why the latest attack took place where it did, as Al Asheerah is some eight kilometres from a military camp where clashes have been reported.

    Since March 2015, OHCHR has documented more than 13,000 civilian casualties, including 5,021 fatalities.

    It says that two-thirds of all casualties were caused by the Coalition and one-quarter by the Houthis “mainly through shelling and mortar fire.

    Eight in 10 Nigerian migrant teenage girls arriving in Italy face sexually exploitation, says IOM

    A huge rise in the number of Nigerian girls arriving in Europe has been accompanied by soaring sexual abuse linked to organised crime.

    Those are the key findings of a report from IOM, the International Organization for Migration.

    In the past three years, the UN agency has seen a near-600 per cent increase in the number of potential sex trafficking victims reaching Italy by sea.

    In 2014, around 1,400 girls crossed the Mediterranean Sea to Italy; that number soared to more than 11,000 last year.

    Another disturbing trend is that the girls are getting younger.

    Here’s IOM’s Flavio Di Giacomo:

    “But the problem is they do not have any idea to the extent of the exploitation they are going to face, sometimes they don’t even really understand what is prostitution because they are very young, they are very naive, so they don’t really have any idea about what they are going to face.”

    IOM is calling for the Nigerian girls and young women to be taken to safe houses as soon as they arrive in Italy, but it is hard to convince them to ask for help.

    This is because they are often travelling with a so-called “Madam” who hands them over to criminal gangs, the UN agency says.

    Source: United Nations Radio

  • Rainy season worsens cholera crisis in Yemen; UN agencies deliver clean water, food

    Yemen is facing the world’s largest cholera outbreak, the United Nations health agency today warned, with 5,000 Yemenis falling sick every day � the majority of them children and the elderly.

    The cholera outbreak is far from being over, Fadela Chaib, spokesperson for the UN World Health Organization (WHO), told reporters in Geneva. The rainy season had just started and would exacerbate the situation in terms of transmission.

    WHO’s office in Yemen said that since 27 April 2017, over 372,900 suspected cholera cases and 1,837 associated deaths have been reported in over 91 per cent of Yemen’s governorates.

    UN agencies, including WHO and the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), are scaling up access to clean water and sanitation, and setting up treatment centres for oral rehydration therapy and other measures.

    The response is also focused on providing food as the country remains on the verge of famine. Seventeen million people are currently hungry in the war-torn country, making then more vulnerable to catching the bacteria.

    It is necessary to break the vicious cycle of malnutrition and diarrhoea, Ms. Chaib said.

    Children aged 15 and under accounted for 41 per cent of all suspected cases, and people aged over 60 for 33 per cent of all deaths.

    Asked if the number of cases could rise about 600,000, as projected by the non-governmental organization Oxfam, Ms. Chaib called the current toll heavy and said the situation remains alarming.

    In 2011, some 719,377 suspected cases of cholera were recorded in Haiti, and 8,767 people died, according to national figures citedby the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

    Source: UN News Centre


    ALHESN (Sana’a, Yemen), A whirl of dust and wind sweeps through Alhesn, a village perched atop Sana’a’s highest hill. A young girl and her little brother slowly climb up the steep stony path leading to the village, carrying half-filled jerry cans of water. Nearby, a shepherd herds his cattle through the walled entrance of this hamlet, which is home to 70 families.

    There is an eerie silence in the village. Children play with broken toys on debris that was once someone’s home. They run around but their voices are low. Stone and rubble are strewn everywhere, along with plastic bags and garbage.

    Two years ago, a massive explosion on an adjoining hill killed many in this village, including children. Within seconds, homes were destroyed and lives shattered. Rocks flew at us from everywhere, I lost my 11-year-old brother on the spot, says a young English teacher. The memory of that tragic day is still fresh in the minds of the people of Alhesn.

    But now the village is grappling with yet another crisis. This time it is a widespread cholera outbreak, with more than 300,000 people across the country affected by acute watery diarrhoea/suspected cholera. Acute watery diarrhoea can be caused by a bacteria called vibrio cholera or other infections and may result in severe dehydration leading to death unless treated quickly and properly.

    Across the village, 35-year-old Hemiar Ahmad Mohammed lives in a stone house with his wife Fauzia and their nine children. The youngest is one month old.

    Last week, one of his sons was rushed to the hospital with acute watery diarrhoea. Soon after, Fauzia’s life was hanging by a thread.

    She was admitted to the intensive care unit at the Al Thawra, one of the few partially functioning hospitals in Sana’a. Her kidneys stopped functioning after a serious attack of suspected cholera.

    I feel like an orphan. I don’t know what to do, Hemiar said as he gently stroked his youngest child who was wrapped in a blanket. The other children sat by their father’s side, all of them missing their mother.

    Hamiar’s story is similar to that of thousands of others as the outbreak spreads rapidly across Yemen.

    Thousands of cases of acute watery diarrhoea/suspected cholera are being reported every day from all corners of the country. Half of them children. In two-and-a-half months since the upsurge was announced, more than 1,700 people have died.

    This health crisis is caused by two years of heavy conflict. Collapsing health, water and sanitation systems have cut off 14.5 million people from regular access to safe water and sanitation, increasing the ability of diseases to spread. At the same time, there is a shortage of doctors and nursing staff to help treat and care for those affected. There are no longer any doctors present in 49 of the country’s 333 districts. Some have fled the country and those who have stayed have not been paid for almost a year.

    With collapsing basic services, garbage is strewn on the streets, stagnant water collects in puddles, while people are forced to depend on untreated and often contaminated water sources for their daily needs. When they fall sick, there are fewer hospital to go to.

    UNICEF is responding by urgently bringing in medicines and other supplies by air and sea and distributing them across medical facilities in the country. WHO and UNICEF are supporting 626 diarrhoea treatment centres and oral rehydration therapy corners across the nation in the most affected districts, with a plan to further scale up to a total of 1,156 facilities. Patients suffering from acute watery diarrhoea are referred to treatment centres and hospitals for specialized care.

    UNICEF is also working to make local environments safer and more hygienic through its sanitation and hygiene programmes. Cholera and other water borne diseases spread faster when sanitation and hygiene systems break down.

    So far, the children’s agency has reached around four million people with water and sanitation services which include disinfecting water sources, distribution of chlorination tablets at homes and support to the rehabilitation of water supply systems and waste water plants.

    In addition, UNICEF is supporting some 16,000 community mobilizers, who are going house-to-house to provide families with information about how to protect themselves by cleaning and storing drinking water, good hygiene and hand washing, keeping food safe and on how to handle a sick family member.

    Back at Hamiar’s home, the family recently received good news � Fauzia’s condition improved dramatically with treatment, and she has been discharged from the hospital. She is now happily reunited with her children and husband, but as long as the conflict continues, new challenges will always lie ahead.


  • PODCAST: An Unprecedented Coalition of NGOs Has Formed to Fight a Global Food Emergency

    On July 17 a very rare thing happened in the world of humanitarian relief. Eight organizations that typically compete for donor dollars joined forces to launch a joint appeal to raise funds and awareness around a global food crisis.

    Some 20 million people in four countries� South Sudan, Yemen, Nigeria and Somalia � face acute food scarcity. South Sudan even experienced a famine for a period of time this year. Facing funding shortages and relatively little popular awareness of this crisis, these NGOs formed that they are calling the Global Emergency Response Coalition.

    On the line with me to discuss the reasons that this coalition formed is Deepmala Mahla, the country director for Mercy Corps in South Sudan. (Mercy Corps is one of the eight members of the coalition.) She explains the food crisis across these four countries and discusses at length the situation in South Sudan. Deepmala also describes in detail her work delivering humanitarian relief to vulnerable populations in South Sudan.

    This is a valuable and timely conversation about an issue that is far too overlooked in the mainstream media.

    Source: UN Dispatch

  • Millions Going Hungry as Conflict-driven Food Prices Soar

    GENEVA The World Food Program warns millions of people around the world are going to bed on an empty stomach because the cost of feeding them is escalating due to conflict, instability and other complex emergencies.In its just released World Food Assis…

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