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Thursday, August 24, 2017

Saudi Arabia - How the House of Saud inflicted 500,000 cholera cases — as policy.

Saudi Arabia - How the House of Saud inflicted 500,000 cholera cases — as policy. HT: Crof.

The Tyee has published my article How the House of Saud Inflicted 500,000 Cholera Cases — As Policy. Excerpt:
The proxy war is a career move by Mohammed bin Salman, the 31-year-old son of the present 81-year-old Saudi king. His ascent has been rapid, culminating in June when he became crown prince. Before that he had been appointed defence minister for the kingdom. In that capacity he organized a coalition of Gulf States to intervene in Yemen via air strikes and a naval blockade. The intervention began in March 2015 — with notable silence from Saudi Arabia’s American, Canadian and European allies. 
A grinding war of attrition 
If the crown prince had won a quick victory over the Houthis, he would now be covered in glory. Instead, the Yemen war has been a grinding, brutal war of attrition — especially against Yemen’s infrastructure. 
The Saudi coalition has prevented most medical supplies from getting into the country, while Saudi coalition jets systematically bombard civilian areas. As Médecins Sans Frontières said in a July update on its activities, “Hundreds of health facilities across the country have stopped functioning due to airstrikes and shelling, and a lack of supplies, funding and staff.”  
The Saudis have clearly been emulating the strategy of other combatants in the Middle East who attack health-care facilities. This has become so widespread that the World Health Organization has actually had to organize a campaign, #NotATarget, to try to protect health-care workers in combat zones.  
This is a late and feeble response to Syrian, Saudi and American attacks on hospitals from Aleppo to Afghanistan to Yemen. They are ipso facto war crimes under Article 14 of the Fourth Geneva Convention. Since the UN Security Council is dominated by permanent-member governments that have violated Article 14, we can’t do much about it. 
The Saudi coalition has also attacked Yemen’s water infrastructure, which is now in ruins. After a cholera outbreak in late 2016, the problem seemed under control until late April when a new outbreak swept the country. 
Though cholera is an easily curable disease, in poor countries and those under naval blockade it can be deadly. To their credit, the Yemenis have kept their fatality rate down to fewer than one in 100 cases. 
But since April 27, more than half a million Yemenis have been sickened by cholera. In June, children were falling ill with it at the rate of one every 35 seconds. While the peak of the outbreak seems to have passed, close to 5,000 people a day are still contracting the disease. 
According to WHO’s Aug. 22 epidemiological update, 23 per cent of cholera cases are in children under the age of five, and 53 per cent are in children under 18. Early in August, Save the Children warned that a million malnourished children are trapped in cholera hot zones. Their immune systems are weakened, and cholera and other diarrheic diseases aggravate their malnutrition. 
While non-governmental organizations like Save the Children and MSF are doing what they can, the UN is reduced to wringing its collective hands and calling it a “deplorable, man-made catastrophe.”

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