An Oxfam director has told The Canary that Yemen is currently facing “one of the world’s worst cholera outbreaks” in decades. And around half a million people are at risk. But while other international stories are front-page news, this disaster is being seriously under-reported in the mainstream media.
According to a World Health Organization (WHO) report [pdf], 1,953 people have already died from the disease since April. There have also been 473,701 confirmed cases, and numbers are rising daily. To put it plainly, that’s the same amount of people infected as the population of Bristol.
It is now already the largest number of cases in a year, topping the previous annual record of 340,311 in Haiti in 2011. The most heartbreaking thing is that a quarter of those who have died so far are children.
There is often a huge discrepancy in what the mainstream media ‘shows’ and ‘tells’ us. We only need to look at the recent coverage of Venezuela to see that some issues are clearly more important than others for corporate media outlets. And Labour MP Keith Vaz slammed the media earlier this week for the lack of coverage on Yemen in particular.
Nigel Timmins, Oxfam’s Humanitarian Director who has just returned from a fact-finding mission to Yemen, told The Canary:
The war has destroyed the economy and left millions without jobs or the means to earn a living and forced 3 million people to flee their homes. It has precipitated a crisis which has left 7 million people on the brink of starvation. And the war has destroyed or damaged more than half the country’s health facilities and ushered in one of the world’s worst cholera outbreaks in over 50 years.
Those countries providing the arms and military support, such as the US and the UK, are fuelling a war that is causing wide-spread suffering and tipping a whole nation towards a catastrophe. It is hard to imagine how much more Yemen can take before it collapses entirely.
It is quite frankly staggering that in just three months more people in Yemen have contracted cholera than any country has suffered in a single year since modern records began. Cholera has spread unchecked in a country already on its knees after two years of war and which is teetering on the brink of famine. For many people, weakened by war and hunger, cholera is the knockout blow.
On the brink of starvation
After a recent visit to Yemen, the heads of three UN agencies said:
The situation remains dire. Thousands are falling sick every day. Sustained efforts are required to stop the spread of disease. Nearly 80 percent of Yemen’s children need immediate humanitarian assistance.
When we met with Yemeni leaders — in Aden and in Sana’a — we called on them to give humanitarian workers access to areas affected by fighting. And we urged them – more than anything – to find a peaceful political solution to the conflict.
People in Yemen, meanwhile, have reportedly been forced to rely on untreated water supplies and unprotected wells, placing them even more at risk:
— Adrian#HandsOffSyria (@AdrianNewYork) August 10, 2017
Why is Yemen’s crisis being ignored?
The UK approved £3.3bn pounds worth of arms to its allies in Saudi Arabia in just the first 12 months of its bombardment of Yemen. So it may not make good business sense for pro-government media outlets to cover the war and the negative impact it’s having on Yemeni civilians.
But the facts remain. Innocent people are still suffering atrocities daily, and one of the world’s worst cholera outbreaks in decades is only getting worse.
Media outlets which fail to hold the powerful to account – both at home and abroad – should be utterly ashamed of themselves.
– Help to stop DSEi (one of the world’s largest arms fairs) this September in London.
Featured image via Flickr