The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has called on Western and regional countries to use their influence towards ending the Saudi war on Yemen.
“Definitely we would hope that Western countries understand the deep crisis, the risk of this enormous crisis for international stability, for the stability of the region,” said ICRC President Peter Maurer during a visit to the Yemeni capital Sana’a on Wednesday.
He noted that the war on Yemen has exacerbated a huge cholera epidemic, which has already claimed the lives of hundreds of people.
Cholera is an acute diarrheal infection that is spread through contaminated food or water. It can be effectively treated with the immediate replacement of lost fluids and salts, but without treatment it can be fatal.
Cholera infection first became epidemic in Yemen last October and spread until December, when it dwindled. The second outbreak began in the Arabian Peninsula country in late April.
“I came here to urge the international community to take action and step up its response to this outbreak, which is – let’s be very clear – a man-made outbreak. It’s largely the consequence of warfare and destruction of public services,” Maurer added.
Saudi Arabia has been leading the campaign against Yemen to reinstate the former government and crush the Houthi Ansarullah movement. The campaign has seriously damaged the country’s infrastructure. Local Yemeni sources have put the death toll from the Saudi war at over 12,000, including many women and children.
He further called on the Saudis to allow the delivery of aid supplies via Sana’a airport, which is in control of the Houthi Ansarullah movement.
Maurer went on to stress that the country’s health system is in shambles, salaries have not been paid for at least 10 months, rubbish is “piling up” in the streets, and hospitals, water stations and other vital infrastructure have been attacked and destroyed by the Saudis.
He noted that about 400,000 people have been infected by cholera, a figure which may increase as the rainy season begins.
“The pace of increase of cases is slightly diminishing. Which does not mean overall the cases are decreasing but the pace is slightly diminishing…The problem is most experts expect the pace to increase when the rainy season starts,” he said.
“I would also hope that those countries outside the region should use their influence to nudge these parties into compromise, to use their influence in order to find solutions,” he added.