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A Yemeni child suspected of cholera is being treated in a hospital in Hodeidah. A Yemeni child suspected of cholera is being treated in a hospital in Hodeidah. 

UN targets half a million Yemenis in Hodeidah with cholera vaccine

The continuing airstrikes by the Saudi-led coalition on Yemen’s crucially strategic port city of Hodeidah is worsening the cholera threat with diminishing access to clean drinking water, sanitation facilities and health systems.

Over a year after cholera broke out in Yemen, killing more than 2,000 people, the disease is back and spreading fast in the Houthi-held port city of Hoeidah, the United Nations has warned. 

Airstrikes on Hodeidah

The Red Sea coast city, responsible for more than 70 percent of all humanitarian aid and food imports to Yemen, is a vital lifeline for a country already teetering on the brink of famine.  It has been a target of continued air strikes by the Saudi-led coalition to regain control of the city.

To mitigate the risks, the Ministry of Health and the UN launched a week-long cholera oral vaccination campaign on Saturday, targeting the most vulnerable 500,000 women, children and men in and around Hodeidah.

Other mitigating measures implemented by humanitarian organizations include the continued provision of safe drinking water and sanitation facilities.

The Yemen conflict was sparked by the Shia-led Houthi rebels taking control of Yemen's capital Sanaa in 2014, which sent the internationally recognized government of  Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi fleeing to exile.  At the request of Hadi, a Saudi-led Sunni coalition, with the backing of the United States, has been at war with the Iran-backed Houthis since 2015 to restore the government.

Hodeidah was one of the worst-hit cities in Yemen’s cholera outbreak last year – the worst in the world at its height. 

On Thursday, the main hospital in Hudaydah was hit during an airstrike, further compounding the dire health situation in the city.

88,000 reached with cholera vaccine

Fighting is still raging across much of Yemen and the escalating humanitarian crisis is the most acute of anywhere in the world this year.

As of Monday, about 88,000 thousand people had been reached with the cholera vaccine. This is the second of three phases of the campaign led by the World Health Organization and the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

The first campaign one was administered in Aden and the final round of vaccines will be administered in other identified hotspot areas.

Grant Philip Leaity, UNICEF’s Deputy Director for Emergency Programmes, explained how Yemen’s war is exacerbating the cholera threat.    

Listen to Grant Philip Leaity, UNICEF’s Deputy Director for Emergency Programmes

Leaity said that cholera is very frequent in conflict situations because of breakdown in access to clean drinking water, health systems and sanitary facilities.  He said cholera vaccination in such situations is difficult to carry out, but it is part of an overall set of preventive measures. 

The UNICEF official said that In Yemen they are severely limited by the conflict situation. Over the past 3 days, he said, they have been trying to reach out to half a million people, inthe second phase of the the vaccination campaign.  The third phase is planned in parts of north and south of of the war-torn country. 

Leaity noted that Yemeni children are scared of bombing and enchanges of fire between factions.  All they are looking for is peace, security of their families, thier schools and they want their future.

(Source: UN News) 

07 August 2018, 15:08