After more than two years of conflict, Yemen is experiencing the world’s worst ever cholera outbreak. Almost 2,000 people have died from the disease and there are now over 400,000 suspected cases.
Hospitals are overwhelmed. Islamic Relief has provided 60 tents for three hospitals in Sana’a, which can accommodate 300 patients. We have also supplied cholera medicines, including IV stands, cannula tubes, saline bags, antibiotics, oral rehydration salts, gloves, syringes and hygiene kits (including soap, disinfectant and towels) to hospitals in five governorates. This is Al Sabeen Hospital which is receiving 100-150 cholera patients a day. Staff here are working around the clock to treat patients but haven’t received a salary for the past eight months.
Rahaf Ibrahim is three years and seven months old. She and her family were displaced from Raymah Governorate and are now living in Sana’a. She was suffering from malnutrition and then became sick with acute watery diarrhoea. Her mum, Iftikhar, took her to the hospital where she was diagnosed with cholera and is receiving treatment alongside her older brother. Her other brother Mohab and mum and dad have all been treated for the disease and fortunately made a recovery. Iftikhar’s husband recently informed her that another son at home has started to have diarrhoea. Iftikhar is desperately worried about being able to care for her children. Her husband, like so many in Yemen, has no work and they are several months behind on the rent. She is worried that they will be thrown out of their house and they won’t be able to afford the treatment costs.
Nabeel Saleh Mohammed (6) suddenly contracted acute watery diarrhoea and was in a lot of pain. His grandmother rushed him to hospital and he was unconscious by the time he arrived. She was beside herself with worry as she had no idea what was wrong with him. The doctor diagnosed cholera and he is now receiving treatment. Looking around the hospital, the grandmother was very concerned She explained: “There are so many people who are suffering from this disease. The hospital is already full and many new patients are arriving every day. I hope my grandson and all the other children will get better soon. This conflict is making living conditions more and more difficult every day. I pray that it ends soon.
Health services have been devastated by the conflict. This hospital in Taiz city is one of almost 300 health facilities damaged or destroyed in the fighting. According to the World Health Organisation, less than half of health facilities are fully functioning in Yemen. Islamic Relief is providing essential medical supplies and drugs, including surgical equipment, kidney dialysis, first aid kits, wheel chairs and oxygen cylinders to several hospitals and health centres throughout the country. This work is extremely challenging because of the restrictions at Hodeida port and the security situation in the surrounding area, but our teams on the ground are brave and determined.
Lack of clean water and sanitation is one of the key causes of the cholera crisis. UNICEF estimates that over 14.5 million people, including many children, are at risk every day without safe drinking water and sanitation facilities.
20.7 million people in Yemen need humanitarian aid to survive – more than in any other single country in the world. Seven million people are on the brink of starvation. Nora Mohammed, aged 18 months, lives with her mum, dad and sister and 14 extended family members in a small house. She, like many of her cousins living in the house, is suffering from malnutrition. Her parents’ only income is from selling firewood and the family is struggling to survive. They know that Nora needs to go to hospital but they cannot afford the transport to get there or the cost of treatment.
More than two million children in Yemen are acutely malnourished, like Salem who is 13 months old and weighs only ten and a half pounds. Salem’s mother said: I’ve lost four daughters and two sons. I do my best to protect my two boys but doctors say Salem is malnourished. All we can afford is bread and black tea. The family is from Algaflah District far from the main hospital in Amran Governorate. They, like other families, struggle to afford the transport costs to get them there.
Ali Hakam, a 45-year-old father of eight, has been struggling for months to meet his family’s basic needs. “What I earn from farming is not enough to support my children,” he says. Ali and his family are living in Sabr district in Taiz in an old house that was destroyed in the conflict. “One night we all were sleeping peacefully in our little house. Suddenly, rockets fell down on our village, children were so terrified and people died. As you see my house got destroyed, but it’s the only place I have to live in”. Ali is scared for the safety of his children but he is also terrified that they might sleep hungry at night. He is dependent on bread from his neighbours and Islamic Relief food parcels.
More than three million people in Yemen are internally displaced. So many people have lost their homes and are now living in horrible conditions. Asia’s house was damaged in a bombing attack in Taiz. The windows and walls were broken but she has nowhere else to go so she and her family continue to live there. Sometimes her children go to school without breakfast, because there is no money coming in. She is dependent on humanitarian aid provided by NGOs such as Islamic Relief. She said: “I dream of a house with beautiful windows and curtains and better lighting that will protect my children from the rain and the sunlight.”