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  • A boy attends a gathering with his father to mark 1000 days of the Saudi-led military intervention in the Yemeni conflict, in Sanaa, Yemen Dec. 21, 2017.

    A boy attends a gathering with his father to mark 1000 days of the Saudi-led military intervention in the Yemeni conflict, in Sanaa, Yemen Dec. 21, 2017. | Photo: Reuters

Published 22 December 2017

The Red Cross said one million people have contracted cholera in Yemen as Saudi Arabia imposes almost total blockade on the country.

Yemen's cholera epidemic has reached one million suspected cases, the International Committee of the Red Cross said Thursday adding that the Saudi-led war against the impoverished nation has left more than 80 percent of the population short of food, fuel, clean water and access to healthcare.

ANALYSIS:
West-Backed Saudi Coalition Has Destroyed Yemen

"Yemen suspected cholera cases has reached the threshold of one million, amplifying the suffering of the country caught up in a brutal war," the ICRC said on its Yemen Twitter account.

Yemen, one of the Arab world's poorest countries, is embroiled in a proxy war between the Houthi armed movement, and a U.S.-backed military coalition headed by Saudi Arabia.

The United Nations says Yemen is suffering the world's worst humanitarian crisis, and eight million people are on the brink of famine.

Cholera flared up in April and spread rapidly, killing 2,227 people according to the World Health Organization. A new wave of cholera is expected in March or April.

"It’s probably unavoidable. We need to be ready to face another big epidemic," Marc Poncin, Yemen emergency coordinator for aid agency Doctors Without Borders, said adding that cholera may become a long-term burden as it has in Haiti. "The places where the war is active are the ones most at risk for increase of disease."

Also the latest medical emergency in Yemen is diphtheria, a disease not seen in the country for 25 years, which has so far affected 312 people and killed 35, Poncin added.

He added that It has not spread explosively, as cholera did, but diphtheria outbreaks can affect many thousands, and there is a global shortage of diphtheria antitoxin.

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As a result of the war, in which Saudi planes targeted hospitals and medical centers in the country, the health system In Yemen has virtually collapsed, with health workers unpaid for a year.

Yemen has been under air and ground attack by Saudi Arabia and its allies since March 2015, a conflict that has so far killed more than 10,000 people, more than half of them are civilians, according to international aid agencies.

The war has also displaced millions of Yemenis and the country is almost completely under total blockade by Saudi Arabia.

The Saudi-led coalition has been fighting Yemen's Houthi movement with the objective of restoring its ally president, Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, who was driven into exile by the Houthis in late 2014.

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