Yemen is likely to be hit by another outbreak of deadly cholera within months, Unicef’s Middle East director has warned on the eve of the third anniversary of the country’s civil war.
More than 1 million children were infected by cholera last year due to lack of access to water and vaccination. Unicef’s Geert Cappelaere said one child every 10 minutes was dying from preventable diseases in Yemen.
“Let us not fool ourselves. Cholera is going to come back,” he said on Sunday. “In a few weeks from now the rainy season will start again and without a huge and immediate investment, cholera will again hit Yemeni children.”
Cappelaere said Unicef had to negotiate for months with both sides in the war for permission to start a vaccination programme, and some military factions still banned imported solar power as a means of pumping drinking water.
“We are using endless time, energy and money for issues that we should never have to negotiate. The lives of children should not be negotiable,” he said.
At a press conference in Jordan, recounting a week-long visit to Yemen, Cappelaere accused the two pre-eminent sides in the war, Saudi Arabia and Yemeni Houthi rebels, of fighting a “senseless and brutal war on children”.
He said: “None of the parties in this war have shown for a single second any respect to the sacred principle of the protection of children.”
He said there was an education crisis, with 500,000 more children no longer able to go to school. “Two million Yemeni boys and girls are no longer attending school or never had a chance to attend school,” he said. More than 500 schools had been destroyed and the majority of teachers were paid no salary.
Unicef’s intervention was one of many appeals on the war’s third anniversary by aid groups and ministers calling for the factions and their regional sponsors to recognise that only a political – as opposed to military – solution will save the country from further disaster.
The civil war broke out after the UN-recognised government of Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi was ejected by Houthi rebels from Sana’a, Yemen’s capital, in 2015.
The coup led to an intervention by a Saudi-led coalition on 27 March 2015 codenamed Operation Decisive Storm. Riyadh, confident of air superiority, never expected the war to last this long and blames Iranian support for the Houthis’ resistance.
Hadi, exiled in Riyadh, is increasingly alienated from his Saudi sponsors, and numerous other groups only nominally loyal to Hadi are fighting the Houthis, complicating the task of making peace.
A new UN special envoy for Yemen, Martin Griffiths, visited San’a for the first time this weekend, amid hotly denied reports that secret talks had been taking place in Oman between Houthis and the UN-recognised government. UK diplomatic sources suggest only informal talks are under way.
Three previous rounds of peace talks failed, and Griffiths will need patience to build trust. His predecessor appeared to have lost the respect of the Houthis.
The Saudi crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, on his visit to Washington, came under some pressure from the US defence secretary, Jim Mattis, to enter into peace talks, but at the same time the US government sealed an arms deal worth $1bn (£710m), including a $670m deal for anti-tank missiles.
A cross-party attempt in the US Congress to ban arms sales to the Saudis failed.
سایت تابناک از انتشار نظرات حاوی توهین و افترا و نوشته شده با حروف لاتین (فینگیلیش) معذور است.