News ID: 219267
Published: 0153 GMT August 03, 2018

At least 55 killed in Saudi airstrikes on Yemen's Hodeida

At least 55 killed in Saudi airstrikes on Yemen's Hodeida

WHO warns of new Yemen cholera surge

At least 55 people, including women and children, have been killed in Yemen's Red Sea port city of Hodeida in air raids carried out by a Saudi-led alliance, the Health Ministry said.

In a statement issued late on Thursday, the ministry said the attacks, which targeted the city's Public al-Thawra Hospital and a busy fishing port, wounded at least 124 Yemenis.

Taha al-Mutawakil, the Minister for Public Health and Population, said local authorities were struggling to cope with the number of casualties, and ambulances feared transporting the wounded to Sana’a or other provinces due to fears of being targeted by airstrikes.

The International Red Cross, which supports the al-Thawra hospital, said it sent surgical supplies that will be enough to treat up to 50 patients who are in critical condition.

Al-Thawra, Yemen’s biggest Hospital, was caught in the attack.

Lise Grande, the UN humanitarian coordinator for Yemen, said in a statement that hundreds of thousands of people depended on the hospital to survive.

"What we have seen in Hodeida is a heinous crime," Mutawakil was quoted by the Houthi-run SABA news agency saying.

He added that US shared responsibility for the deaths.

With logistical support from the US, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have been carrying out attacks inside Yemen since March 2015 in an attempt to reinstate the government of former president Abu-Rabbu Mansour Hadi.

The Yemeni Ministry of Human Rights announced in a statement on March 25 that the Saudi-led war had left some 600,000 civilians dead and injured since March 2015.

The United Nations says a record 22.2 million Yemenis are in need of food aid, including 8.4 million threatened by severe hunger.

For the last few weeks, the UN had been trying to broker a deal in a bid to avert an assault on the city, which it fears would further hinder Yemenis' access to food, fuel and medicine – worsening the world's most urgent humanitarian crisis.

Hodeida has been under the control of the Houthis since 2014 and was responsible for delivering 70 percent of Yemen's imports – mostly humanitarian aid, food and fuel – pre-2015.


Cholera outbreak

Meanwhile, the World Health Organization said on Friday Yemen may be on the brink of a new cholera epidemic, with a heightened death rate due to widespread malnutrition, and the United Nations is hoping for a cease-fire in the north to allow for vaccinations.

“We’ve had two major waves of cholera epidemics in recent years and unfortunately the trend data that we’ve seen in the last days to weeks suggests that we may be on the cusp of the third major wave of cholera epidemics in Yemen,” WHO emergency response chief Peter Salama told reporters in Geneva.

“We’re calling on all parties to the conflict to act in accordance with international humanitarian law and to respect the request of the UN and international community for three full days of tranquility and to lay down arms to allow us to vaccinate the civilian population for cholera.”

Northern Yemen has never had an oral cholera vaccination campaign, but 3,000 health workers plan to vaccinate more than 500,000 people over the next three days in and around Hodeida.

This year’s cholera incidence was not at the massive level seen a year ago, when case numbers surged to an eventual 1.1 million, but the steady recent increase pointed to a new outbreak beginning, Salama said.

Previous outbreaks might have helped build cholera immunity in the population, but other diseases, as well as malnutrition, have weakened Yemenis’ immune systems.

“What we’re likely to see is that interplay with cholera and malnutrition occurring more and more...and not only more cases because of that but even higher death rates among the cholera cases that do occur, because people just don’t have the physical resources to fight the disease any longer,” Salama said.

Al Jazeera, Press TV and Reuters contributed to this story.  


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