Hunger brings death to Congolese Kasai after guns fall silent

An internally displaced woman sits with her severely acute malnourished children as they wait to receive medical attention at the Tshiamala general referral hospital of Mwene Ditu in Kasai Oriental Province in the Democratic Republic of Congo, March 15, 2018. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya

By media coulibaly

MWENE DITU, Democratic Republic of Congo, March 21 (Reuters) – The guns have fallen silent in the Congolese town of Mwene Ditu, but each day starving children arrive at the small hospital there battling for their lives.

Justine Musau, pregnant with her second child, fled into the forest in the central Kasai region last year after militiamen arrived in her nearby village and started decapitating residents they accused of collaborating with government forces.

“We didn’t know who had gone where,” she said, holding her four-year-old daughter close to her chest. Nourished only by the occasional serving of cassava, her two children had fallen ill from the lack of nutrients, she said.

“We went to sleep famished for three or four days at a time. We didn’t have pots or pans to prepare (food) so we had practically nothing to eat.”

Fighting between the army and the Kamuina Nsapu militia went on for about a year in the generally peaceful region’s worst outbreak of violence in decades. As many as 5,000 people were killed and an estimated 1.5 million forced from their homes.

Hostilities broke out in August 2016 when Congolese forces killed local chief Jean-Pierre Mpandi, who had demanded their withdrawal from Kasai.

Both sides committed atrocities, according to witness testimonies gathered by Reuters and the United Nations.

Security forces gunned down women and children in door-to-door raids and militiamen burned down houses and cut off alleged government sympathizers’ heads, feeding the blood to their young fighters as part of gruesome initiation rituals.

The deployment of more government troops into Kasai has largely put a stop to the violence, and hundreds of thousands of civilians are now returning home.

But as they do, hunger and disease are eclipsing guns and machetes as the region’s most prolific killers.

About 400,000 children in Kasai suffer from severe acute malnutrition, roughly the same number as in civil war-ravaged Yemen, according to the United Nations children’s agency (UNICEF).

Only 13 percent receive medical attention “because there is not enough financing or attention,” said Christophe Boulierac, a UNICEF spokesman.

While a cholera epidemic that has already killed more than 100 people also rages, the fields that grow the cassava and maize the population depends on to survive lie barren from months of neglect.

COMBUSTIBLE MIX

The crisis in Kasai is one of several gripping Congo, where President Joseph Kabila’s refusal to step down when his mandate expired in December 2016 inflamed a combustible mix of ethnic grievances and competition over land and mineral resources that has fuelled years of conflict.

In all, over 13 million Congolese need humanitarian aid, twice as many as last year, and 7.7 million face severe food insecurity, up 30 percent from a year ago, the U.N. said in a report this month.

Aid groups say they have only a fraction of the $1.7 billion they need this year, so many of those returning home hungry and destitute find they are left to fend for themselves.

“After a month in the forest, we heard people cry out, ‘Leave the bush, the Kamuina Nsapu have left,'” recalled Justine Mulanaga, who had come to the hospital with her two young grandchildren.

“We left the forest to return to the village but everything was destroyed,” she said. “We didn’t even find a glass or a plate.”

(Writing by Aaron Ross; Editing by John Stonestreet)

Venezuela begins power rationing as drought causes severe outages

Lisney Albornoz (2nd R) and her family use a candle to illuminate the table while they dine, during a blackout in San Cristobal, Venezuela March 14, 2018. Picture taken March 14, 2018. REUTERS/Carlos Eduardo Ramirez

By Anggy Polanco and Isaac Urrutia

SAN CRISTOBAL, Venezuela (Reuters) – Venezuela imposed electricity rationing this week in six western states, as the crisis-hit country’s creaky power grid suffered from a drought that has reduced water levels in key reservoirs needed to run hydroelectric power generators.

The four-hour formal outages began on Thursday. But many residents scoffed at the announcement, wryly noting that they have been suffering far more extended blackouts during the last week.

“We have spent 14 hours without electricity today. And yesterday electricity came and went: for six hours we had no power,” said Ligthia Marrero, 50, in the western state of San Cristobal, noting that her fridge had been damaged by the frequent interruptions.

Crumbling infrastructure and lack of investments have hit Venezuela’s power supply for years. Now, the situation has been exacerbated by dwindling rains.

In the worst-hit western cities, business has all but ground to a halt at a time when the OPEC nation of 30 million is already suffering hyperinflation and a profound recession. Many Venezuelans are unable to eat properly on salaries of just a couple of dollars per month at the black market rate, sparking malnutrition, emigration and frequent sights of Venezuelans digging through trash or begging in front of supermarkets.

Maybelin Mendoza, a cashier at a bakery in Tachira state, said business has been further hit because points of sale stop working during blackouts – just as Venezuelans are chronically short of cash due to hyperinflation.

In the most dramatic cases, the opposition governor of Tachira state said three people, including a four-month-old, died this week because they failed to receive assistance during a power outage.

“Because of electrical failures, the machines weren’t able to revive the people and they died,” said Laidy Gomez.

Reuters was unable to confirm the report.

Authorities have acknowledged that interruptions will continue for at least two weeks, but they have not said whether they will spread to other states.

A worker tries to start the generator of the Padre Justo hospital during a blackout in Rubio, Venezuela March 14, 2018. Picture taken March 14, 2018. REUTERS/Carlos Eduardo Ramirez

A worker tries to start the generator of the Padre Justo hospital during a blackout in Rubio, Venezuela March 14, 2018. Picture taken March 14, 2018. REUTERS/Carlos Eduardo Ramirez

“Of a possible 1,100 megawatts, we are only generating 150 right now,” Energy Minister Luis Motta told reporters referring to the Fabricio Ojeda dam, in the western Andean state of Merida.

Capital city Caracas and other major cities have not been hit by rationing yet. Two years ago, rationing there lasted five months when a drought hit the Guri dam, the country’s largest hydroelectric dam.

But because of the economic crisis, Venezuela has reduced electricity consumption to about 14,000 megawatts at peak hours, according to engineer and former electricity executive Miguel Lara. Two years ago, state-run Corpoelec put the figure at 16,000 megawatts.

(Writing by Andreina Aponte and Girish Gupta; Editing by Corina Pons, Alexandra Ulmer and David Gregorio)

Two million children in Congo at risk of starvation, U.N. warns

GENEVA (Reuters) – More than 2 million children in the Democratic Republic of Congo are estimated to be at risk of dying from severe acute malnutrition if they do not get the aid they need, the United Nations warned on Friday.

U.N. humanitarian chief Mark Lowcock will meet donors next week in the country where conditions in many areas are worsening, U.N. spokesman Jens Laerke told a Geneva briefing.

“We have a great responsibility in the DRC…now is the time to stay the course,” Laerke said.

The 2 million children at risk of starvation include some 300,000 children in the Kasai region, Bettina Luescher of the U.N.’s World Food Programme (WFP) said.

(Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay, editing by Tom Miles)

Venezuela’s Maduro threatens to gatecrash regional summit

Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro gestures as he talks to the media during a news conference in Caracas, Venezuela February 15, 2018. REUTERS/Marco Bello

CARACAS (Reuters) – Venezuela’s unpopular socialist president Nicolas Maduro said on Thursday his right-wing Latin American counterparts showed intolerance by trying to exclude him from an upcoming summit in Lima and he vowed to go anyway.

Peru’s center-right government this week said Maduro would not be welcome at the Summit of the Americas in April, reinforcing his growing diplomatic isolation during a crackdown on dissent and a brutal economic crisis in Venezuela.

“Do you fear me? You don’t want to see me in Lima? You’re going to see me. Because come rain or shine, by air, land, or sea, I will attend the Summit of the Americas,” Maduro said during a press conference with foreign journalists.

Maduro also said Argentina’s center-right president Mauricio Macri should call a meeting of the Union of South American Nations (Unasur) group of Latin American nations with him.

“Call a meeting, dare, don’t be scared of me, President Macri,” said Maduro. “If you want to talk about Venezuela, let’s talk about Venezuela.”

Government critics say Maduro for years has refused to listen to advice that he should reform Venezuela’s crumbling economy that has spawned shortages, hyperinflation, malnutrition, and the return of once-controlled diseases. They also say he refuses to acknowledge the extent of Venezuela’s humanitarian suffering, so it is futile to meet with him.

He says right-wing regional governments are part of U.S.-led international conspiracy to topple him and take control of the OPEC member’s oil resources.

“They’re the most unpopular governments on the planet,” he said, naming Argentina, Colombia and Peru.

(Reporting by Alexandra Ulmer; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne and Andrew Hay)

Mad Max violence stalks Venezuela’s lawless roads

A child looks at a basket filled with mandarins while workers load merchandise into Humberto Aguilar's truck at the wholesale market in Barquisimeto, Venezuela January 30,

By Andrew Cawthorne

LA GRITA, Venezuela (Reuters) – It’s midnight on one of the most dangerous roads in Latin America and Venezuelan trucker Humberto Aguilar hurtles through the darkness with 20 tons of vegetables freshly harvested from the Andes for sale in the capital Caracas.

When he set off at sunset from the town of La Grita in western Venezuela on his 900-km (560-mile) journey, Aguilar knew he was taking his life in his hands.

With hunger widespread amid a fifth year of painful economic implosion under President Nicolas Maduro, Venezuela has seen a frightening surge in attacks on increasingly lawless roads.

Just a few days earlier, Aguilar said he sat terrified when hundreds of looters swarmed a stationary convoy, overwhelming drivers by sheer numbers. They carted off milk, rice and sugar from other trucks but left his less-prized vegetables alone.

“Every time I say goodbye to my family, I entrust myself to God and the Virgin,” said the 36-year-old trucker.

Workers pose for a picture while they load vegetables into a truck to sell them in the town of Guatire outside Caracas, in La Grita, Venezuela January 27, 2018.

Workers pose for a picture while they load vegetables into a truck to sell them in the town of Guatire outside Caracas, in La Grita, Venezuela January 27, 2018. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins

While truck heists have long been common in Latin America’s major economies from Mexico to Brazil, looting of cargoes on roads has soared in Venezuela in recent times and appears to be not just a result of common crime but directly linked to growing hunger and desperation among the population of 30 million.

Across Venezuela, there were some 162 lootings in January, including 42 robberies of trucks, according to the consultancy Oswaldo Ramirez Consultores (ORC), which tracks road safety for companies. That compared to eight lootings, including one truck robbery, in the same month of last year.

“The hunger and despair are far worse than people realize, what we are seeing on the roads is just another manifestation of that. We’ve also been seeing people stealing and butchering animals in fields, attacking shops and blocking roads to protest their lack of food. It’s become extremely serious,” said ORC director Oswaldo Ramirez.

Eight people have died in the lootings in January of this year, according to a Reuters tally.

The dystopian attacks in a country with one of the world’s highest murder rates are pushing up transport and food costs in an already hyperinflationary environment, as well as stifling movement of goods in the crisis-hit OPEC nation.

They have complicated the perilous life of truckers who already face harassment from bribe-seeking soldiers, spiraling prices for parts and hours-long lines for fuel.

Government officials and representatives of the security forces did not respond to requests for comment for this story.

Barred by law from carrying guns, the Andean truckers form convoys to protect themselves, text each other about trouble spots – and keep moving as fast as possible.

Aguilar said that on one trip a man appeared on his truck’s sideboard and put a pistol to his head – but his co-driver swerved hard to shake the assailant off.

On this journey, however, he was lucky. Just before reaching Caracas, assailants hurled a stone at his windscreen but it bounced off.

Even once Andean truckers reach cities, there is no respite.

Armed gangs often charge them for safe passage and permission to set up markets.

“The government gives us no security. It’s madness. People have got used to the easy life of robbing,” said Javier Escalante, who owns two trucks that take vegetables from La Grita to the town of Guatire outside Caracas every week.

“But if we stop, how do we earn a living for our families? How do Venezuelans eat? And how do the peasant farmers sell their produce? We have no choice but to keep going.”

GUNMEN ON BIKES

The looters use a variety of techniques, depending on the terrain and the target, according to truckers, inhabitants of towns on highways, and videos of incidents.

Sometimes gunmen on motorbikes surround a truck, slowing it down before pouncing like lions stalking prey. In other instances, attackers wait for a vehicle to slow down – at a pothole for example – before jumping on, cutting through the tarpaulin and hurling goods onto the ground for waiting companions.

In one video apparently showing a looting and uploaded to social media, people are seen gleefully dragging live chickens from a stranded truck.

The looters use tree trunks and rocks to stop vehicles, and are particularly fond of “miguelitos” – pieces of metal with long spikes – to burst tires and halt vehicles.

A ring-road round the central town of Barquisimeto, with shanty-towns next to it, is notorious among truckers, who nickname it “The Guillotine” due to the regular attacks.

In some cases, crowds simply swarm at trucks when they stop for a break or repairs. Soldiers or policemen seldom help, according to interviews with two dozen drivers.

Yone Escalante, 43, who also takes vegetables from the Andes on a 2,800-km (1,700-mile) round-trip to eastern Venezuela, shudders when he recalls how a vehicle of his was ransacked in the remote plains of Guarico state last year.

The trouble began when one of his two trucks broke down and about 60 people appeared from the shadows and surrounded it.

Escalante, about half an hour behind in his truck, rushed to help. By the time he arrived, the crowd had swelled to 300 and Escalante – a well-spoken businessman who owns trucks and sells produce – said he jumped on the vehicle to reason with them.

“Suddenly two military men arrived on the scene, and I thought ‘Thank God, help has arrived’,” Escalante recounted during a break between trips in La Grita.

But as the crowd chanted menacingly “Food for the people!”, the soldiers muttered something about the goods being insured – which they were not – and drove off, he said.

“That was the trigger. They came at us like ants and stripped us of everything: potatoes, onions, tomatoes, cucumber, carrots. It took me all day to load that truck, and 30 minutes for them to empty it. I could cry with rage.”

MAD MAX OR ROBIN HOOD?

Though events on Venezuela’s roads may seem like something out of the Mad Max movie, truckers say they are often more akin to Robin Hood as assailants are careful not to harm the drivers or their vehicles provided they do not resist.

“The best protection is to be submissive, hand things over,” said Roberto Maldonado, who handles paperwork for truckers in La Grita. “When people are hungry, they are dangerous.”

However, all the truckers interviewed by Reuters said they knew of someone murdered on the roads – mainly during targeted robberies rather than spontaneous lootings.

With new tires now going for about 70 million bolivars – about $300 on the black market or more than two decades of work at the official minimum wage – looters often swipe them along with food.

The journey from the Andes to Caracas passes about 25 checkpoints, where the truckers have to alight and seek a stamp from National Guard soldiers.

At some, a bribe is required, with a bag of potatoes now more effective than increasingly worthless cash.

Yone Escalante said that on one occasion when he was looted after a tire burst, policemen joined in the fray, taking bananas and cheese with the crowd.

In the latest attack, just days ago, he was traveling slowly over potholes in a convoy with four other trucks after dark, when assailants jumped on and started grabbing produce.

“Even though there were holes in the road, we sped up and swerved to shake them off,” he said. “It’s either us or them.”

(See http://reut.rs/2GVaX0s for a related photo essay and http://tmsnrt.rs/2sgqfJP for a map of one trucking route)

(Additional reporting by Leon Wietfeld in Caracas and Anggy Polanco in La Grita; Editing by Girish Gupta, Daniel Flynn and Frances Kerry)

Food security in Middle East, North Africa deteriorating, says U.N. agency

A Syrian woman and her children wait for food aid in front of an humanitarian aid distrubition center in Syrian border town of Jarablus, Syria, December 13, 2017.

CAIRO (Reuters) – Food security in the Middle East and North Africa is quickly deteriorating because of conflict in several countries in the region, the United Nations said on Thursday.

In those hardest hit by crises — Syria, Yemen, Iraq, Libya and Sudan — an average of more than a quarter of the population was undernourished, the U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organization said in its annual report on food security.

A quarter of Yemen’s people are on the brink of famine, several years into a proxy war between the Iran-aligned Houthis and the Saudi-backed government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi that has caused one of the worst humanitarian catastrophes in recent times.

The report focused on changes to food security and nutrition across the region since 2000.

It said that undernourishment in countries not directly affected by conflict, such as most Gulf Arab states and most North African countries including Egypt, had slowly improved in the last decade. But it had worsened in conflict-hit countries.

“The costs of conflict can be seen in the measurements of food insecurity and malnutrition,” the FAO’s assistant director-general Abdessalam Ould Ahmed said.

“Decisive steps towards peace and stability (need to be) taken.”

Several countries in the region erupted into conflict following uprisings in 2011 that overthrew leaders in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya.

Syria’s civil war, which also began with popular demonstrations, has killed hundreds of thousands of people and made more than 11 million homeless.

(Reporting by John Davison; Editing by Angus MacSwan)

North Korean women suffer discrimination, rape, malnutrition: U.N.

Women wearing traditional clothes walk past North Korean soldiers after an opening ceremony for a newly constructed residential complex in Ryomyong street in Pyongyang, North Korea April 13, 2017.

By Stephanie Nebehay

GENEVA (Reuters) – North Korean women are deprived of education and job opportunities and are often subjected to violence at home and sexual assault in the workplace, a U.N. human rights panel said on Monday.

After a regular review of Pyongyang’s record, the U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women also voiced concern at rape or mistreatment of women in detention especially those repatriated after fleeing abroad.

North Korean women are “under-represented or disadvantaged” in tertiary education, the judiciary, security and police forces and leadership and managerial positions “in all non-traditional areas of work”, the panel of independent experts said.

“The main issue is first of all the lack of information. We have no access to a large part of laws, elements and information on national machinery,” Nicole Ameline, panel member, told Reuters. “We have asked a lot of questions.”

North Korea told the panel on Nov. 8 that it was working to uphold women’s rights and gender equality but that sanctions imposed by major powers over its nuclear and missile programs were taking a toll on vulnerable mothers and children.

Domestic violence is prevalent and there is “very limited awareness” about the issue and a lack of legal services, psycho-social support and shelters available for victims, the panel said.

It said economic sanctions had a disproportionate impact on women. North Korean women suffer “high levels of malnutrition”, with 28 percent of pregnant or lactating women affected, it said.

“We have called on the government to be very, very attentive to the situation of food and nutrition. Because we consider that it is a basic need and that the government has to invest and to assume its responsibilities in this field,” Ameline said.

“Unfortunately I am not sure that the situation will improve very quickly.”

The report found that penalties for rape in North Korea were not commensurate with the severity of the crime, which also often goes unpunished. Legal changes in 2012 lowered the penalties for some forms of rape, including the rape of children, rape by a work supervisor and repeated rape.

This has led to reducing the punishment for forcing “a woman in a subordinate position” to have sexual intercourse from four years to three years, the report said.

It said women trafficked abroad and then returned to North Korea, are reported to be sent to labor training camps or prisons, accused of “illegal border crossing”, and may be exposed to further violations of their rights, including sexual violence by security officials and forced abortions.

 

(Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay; Editing by Robin Pomeroy and Alison Williams)

 

Convoy rolls into Damascus suburbs with aid for 40,000

Smoke rises at a damaged site in Ain Tarma, eastern Damascus suburb of Ghouta, Syria, September 14, 2017.

GENEVA (Reuters) – A convoy from the United Nations and Syrian Arab Red Crescent entered towns in the besieged Damascus suburb of eastern Ghouta on Monday, bringing aid to 40,000 people for the first time since June 2016, the United Nations said.

A tightening siege by government forces has pushed people to the verge of famine in the eastern suburbs, residents and aid workers said last week, bringing desperation to the only major rebel enclave near the Syrian capital.

The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said on Twitter they had entered the towns of Kafra Batna and Saqba.

The Syrian Arab Red Crescent said in a separate tweet that the inter-agency convoy had 49 trucks.

They carried food, nutrition and health items for 40,000 people in need, OCHA spokesman Jens Laerke said. “The last time we reached these two locations were in June 2016,” he said.

A health worker in Saqba who was present when the convoy started to offload said that nine trucks of foodstuffs, including milk and peanut butter, and four trucks of medicines had arrived so far.

Technical specialists were on board to assess needs in the towns in order to plan a further humanitarian response, he said.

“More aid to complement today’s delivery is planned in the coming days,” Laerke added.

At least 1,200 children in eastern Ghouta suffer from malnutrition, with 1,500 others at risk, a spokeswoman for the U.N. children’s agency UNICEF said last week.

Bettina Luescher, spokeswoman of the U.N. World Food Programme (WFP), said the convoy carried nutrition supplies for 16,000 children.

Food, fuel and medicine once travelled across frontlines into the suburbs through a network of underground tunnels. But early this year, an army offensive nearby cut smuggling routes that provided a lifeline for around 300,000 people in the enclave east of the capital.

 

(Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay; Additional reporting by Ellen Francis in Beirut; Editing by Alison Williams and Peter Graff)

 

Recovering from severe malnutrition in Yemen

Recovering from severe malnutrition in Yemen

By Abduljabbar Zeyad

HODEIDAH, Yemen (Reuters) – Smiling and sitting down to bread and milk with her family, Yemeni teenager Saida Ahmed Baghili is barely recognizable a year on from the photo of her emaciated frame that came to symbolize the country’s humanitarian crisis.

Baghili now weighs 36kg (80 lb), according to her father, more than triple the 11kg she weighed last October when Reuters first met her at the al-Thawra hospital in Sana’a, where she was undergoing treatment for severe malnutrition.

There the 19-year-old was unable to talk, let alone carry her ghostly, skeletal frame, which is now stronger after weeks of specialist care and time at home.

“Saida’s body got better because she’s eating better, but she’s still having trouble swallowing,” her father Ahmed Baghili said at their home in Hodeidah this month.

“She can only eat milk, biscuits and juice.”

Baghili’s plight reflects that of many families in the Arabian Peninsula’s poorest country, where a two-and-a-half-year war between a Saudi-led Arab coalition and the Iran-allied Houthi movement has claimed 10,000 lives.

A quarter of the 28 million population are starving, according to the United Nations, with half a million children under the age of 5 severely malnourished and at least 2,135 people killed by cholera.

Ahmed Baghili is only able to supply the basics for his family of 10, who live in a parched village on the Red Sea coast.

Saida, whose illness began before the war, is able to help her father tend to a farmer’s cattle in exchange for milk, with their income boosted by Ahmed making deliveries on his motorcycle and donations from humanitarian organizations.

However, he says he doesn’t have enough money to send Saida for further treatment and still fears for her health. Her last appointment with a doctor was in December.

“We’re worried she might relapse and then we wouldn’t be able to do anything because we have nothing. We don’t have the transportation fee, we don’t have the fee for anything,” he said.

Click on http://reut.rs/2gxeJkK to see a related photo essay

(Writing by Patrick Johnston in LONDON; Editing by Hugh Lawson)

Cholera claims unborn children as epidemic spreads Yemen misery

Children wait to be treated at a cholera treatment center in Sanaa, Yemen May 15, 2017. Picture taken May 15, 2017.

By Abduljabbar Zeyad

HODEIDAH, Yemen (Reuters) – One of the latest victims of the cholera epidemic that has killed more than 2,000 people in Yemen had yet to even take her first breath.

Her mother Safaa Issa Kaheel, then nine months pregnant, was brought into a crowded clinic in the Western port city of Hodeidah by her husband, who had to borrow the travel fare from a neighbor. “My stomach started hurting more and more,” said Kaheel, 37, a hydrating drip hooked into her arm.

Once there, she was referred by nurse Hayam al-Shamaa for an ultrasound scan which showed her baby had died of dehydration – one of 15 to perish in the womb due to cholera in September and October, according to doctors at the city’s Thawra hospital.

“I felt like death,” Kaheel said, her voice strained. “Thank god I survived the (delivery), but my diarrhea hasn’t stopped.”

The Red Cross has warned that cholera, a diarrheal disease that has been eradicated in most developed countries, could infect a million people in Yemen by the end of the year.

Two and a half years of war have sapped Yemen of the money and medical facilities it needs to battle the contagion, to which aid agencies and medics say the poor, the starving, the pregnant and the young are most vulnerable.

The cholera ward is full of children – some writhing in agony, others eerily still. The blanket over one boy too weak to move rises and falls with his shallow breathing.

Save the Children said in August that children under 15 represent nearly half of new cases and a third of deaths, with malnourished children more than six times more likely to die of cholera than well-fed ones.

Millions of Yemenis are struggling to find food and the baking desert plains around Hodeidah are hotspots both of hunger and sickness.

Yemen’s war pits the armed Houthi movement against the internationally recognized government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, which is backed by a Saudi-led coalition that has launched thousands of air strikes to restore him to power.

At least 10,000 people have been killed in the conflict.

The country’s health sector has been badly battered while a struggle over the central bank has left public sector salaries for doctors and sanitation workers unpaid.

Soumaya Beltifa, spokesperson for the Red Cross in Sanaa, warned that a lack of funds and health personnel were blunting efforts to eradicate the disease, making it unlikely Yemen would be healthy again soon.

“The cholera epidemic has become a norm, leading to complacency in dealing with the disease, not only by civilians but also from the various (aid) organizations,” she warned.