Yemen flooding escalates spread of cholera
UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, and humanitarian partners are concerned that the flooding may exacerbate the risks and spread of diseases, including cholera. More than 364,000 suspected cases of cholera and 639 deaths have been reported across Yemen since the beginning of the year by WHO – nearing the total for all of 2018.
Torrential rains and widespread flooding across 12 governorates in Yemen in recent weeks have affected tens of thousands of people, heightening the need for emergency assistance in the country which has seen four years of conflict creating the world’s largest humanitarian crisis.
Preliminary reports indicated that more than 80,000 people have been impacted by the disaster, with at least three people having lost their lives. These figures add to the 14 million people in need of protection as a result of ongoing conflict, which has forced nearly 15 percent of the entire population, some 4.3 million people, to flee their homes. This includes 3.3 million people who are still displaced across the country, while one million have attempted to return home.
According to the Civilian Impact Monitoring Report for 2018, more than 4,800 civilian deaths and injuries were reported over the course of the year due to the ongoing conflict in Yemen, resulting in an average of 93 civilian casualties per week.
Thirty percent of civilians were reported to have been killed and injured inside their homes. Civilians were also killed while travelling on the roads, while working on farms and at local business, markets and other civilian sites.
One-fifth of all civilian casualties recorded were inflicted on children (410 deaths and 542 injuries).
UNHCR is responding to the needs of displaced Yemenis affected by conflict with emergency cash assistance, shelter assistance and other forms of aid, as well as protection assistance and services to those at risk and vulnerable, including women, children, the elderly, persons with disabilities and survivors of gender-based violence.
UNHCR is also working to provide emergency assistance to people impacted by the flooding, many are people living in emergency shelters and informal settlements. Their tents and tarpaulins have been damaged by rains, exposing them to homelessness and associated protection risks, including risks related to the lack of privacy and potential exploitation and abuse.
The floods have also increased health risks, with clinics, access to pharmaceutical supplies, food stocks, schools, and sanitation facilities all impacted by the disaster. Among main needs identified so far are emergency shelter, food, water and sanitation, particularly for those displaced and living in informal settlements.
The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) was established on 14 December 1950 by the United Nations General Assembly. The agency is mandated to lead and coordinate international action to protect refugees and resolve refugee issues. It strives to ensure that everyone has the right to seek asylum and find safe refuge in another state, with the option to voluntarily return home when conditions are conducive for return, integrate locally or resettle to a third country. UNHCR has twice won the Nobel Peace Prize, in 1954 for its ground-breaking work in helping the refugees of Europe, and in 1981 for its worldwide assistance to refugees.