A cholera outbreak that has already infected over 300,000 people is just the latest disaster to hit Yemen in what the United Nations has called the worst humanitarian crisis on Earth.
The country has endured two years of bloody civil war between Houthi rebels and a United States-backed Sunni coalition, with nearly 19 million people in need of assistance.
Cholera is typically cured through rehydration treatments, which have extremely high levels of success in countries where medical care is easily accessible. Yet, the International Committee of the Red Cross reports that only 45 percent of Yemen’s medical facilities are functional. For people who do not receive medical care, the disease’s risk of death spikes to roughly 50 percent.
And the U.S. is directly contributing to the carnage, particularly through its support of Saudi Arabian bombing campaigns that often kill innocent civilians and destroy critical infrastructure for the country.
As Vox News reports, the U.S. sells Saudi Arabia tanks, fighter planes, and cluster bombs, among other weapons, which are periodically used against noncombatants. Vox also notes that U.S. forces assisted in 1,600 refueling operations for Saudi fighter jets as they conducted bombing operations over Yemen.
Much like the crisis in Syria, the conflict in Yemen is a proxy war between countries from all over the Middle East vying for control of the region. Meanwhile, civilians on the ground pay the biggest price.
Apart from direct attacks against civilians, the civil war has crippled infrastructure, especially in the Yemeni capital of Sanaa, making health crises like the cholera outbreak even more devastating. ICRC estimates that roughly 1,500 people have already died due to cholera infection, but that number could increase dramatically as food and water supplies continue to dwindle.
The U.S. and Saudi Arabia both contributed millions of dollars to provide humanitarian aid to Yemen in a recent U.N. pledge. Their efforts could be exponentially more effective if they vowed to abstain from indiscriminate bombing campaigns over the already crippled nation as well.
Banner/Thumbnail Credit: REUTERS, Fawaz Salman