Yemen’s Shiite Houthi rebels declared a health emergency in the capital Sana’a after thousands of people were infected with cholera, the Saba news agency reported.
Cholera has spread through all the city’s districts, infecting 2,567 people, the rebel-controlled news agency said on Sunday. The disease, transmitted by contaminated food and water, has claimed 116 lives in 14 provinces during the last two weeks, the International Committee of the Red Cross said in a statement.
Yemen has been engulfed by a humanitarian crisis since a civil war flared into a regional conflict, devastating the Yemeni economy and pushing millions to the brink of starvation. A coalition led by Saudi Arabia, the predominant Sunni power in the Middle East, has been fighting the Houthis since 2015 in an effort to restore the rule of Yemeni President Abdurabuh Mansur Hadi.
Since the start of the war, at least 4,773 civilians have been killed and another 8,272 injured by the violence, according to the United Nations High Commission for Human Rights. About 21 million Yemenis, or 82 percent of the population, are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance, the UN said.
The International Committee of the Red Cross estimated that the number of suspected cases of cholera in the country has tripled in a week to more than 8,500, the BBC reported citing Dominik Stillhart, director of the agency’s operations. Local authorities have appealed to international and local aid groups for help to control the disease, the news service said.