Thursday, 11 May 2017

Yemen , Where Agents of Good Work Amid Bigots, Disease and Relentless Climate Change. (Opinion)

by Larry Powell

Is the potent "trio" of war,  climate change and religion taking a toll on the world’s most vulnerable? Famine, drought and food insecurity have plagued Yemen, the poorest country in the Arab world, even before the outbreak of open warfare there in 2015. Since then, thousands have died in the conflict. Millions more face famine and imminent death from drought and starvation.

Saudi Arabia has been bombing its little neighbour for some time now, in a conflict fed by sectarian hatred. Some of it has to do with which of the warring factions within the country believe in which branch of Islam, Sunni or Shi'ite. (Or which subdivision of which branch.) 
As in much of the rest of the world, religion and war are paramount - at the pinnacle of what it apparently means to be "human." This photo depicts a Yemeni fighter praying (in the 1960s.) Photo by Dr. Ulrich Middendrop

But the World Health Organization (a branch of the UN) says the war, as bad as it is, is not the only culprit on the scene. Serious disease is now thrown into the mix, too.

Almost three thousand people are sick and 51 have died of cholera. It’s an acute form of diarrhea caused when people ingest food or water contaminated by the cholera bacteria. If left untreated, the disease can kill within hours. These pathogens are “more likely to spread” in a world made warmer by manmade climate change. And recent heavy rains (said by experts to often be a product of a changing climate), have washed filth from uncollected waste into rivers and streams. Climate change is often named by UN and aid officials as a factor in the widespread droughts in Yemen and Africa which have lead to crop failure, malnutrition and death.

None of this has kept medical workers with the WHO from their heroic rounds. They've been distributing cholera kits, oral rehydration solutions, intravenous fluids and other medical needs to where they're needed. They're also setting up ten oral “rehydration therapy corners” in Sana’a, Yemen’s capitol. 

It is reassuring to know there are people like this who, instead of going into the world to deny climate science, thwart efforts to combat it, or to "smite" enemies and bow down to imaginary beings in the sky, actually help victims of those who do.


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