Suspected cholera cases in Yemen spike in 2019: UN

In this Sept. 27, 2018 file photo, a girl is treated for a suspected cholera infection at a hospital in Hodeida, Yemen. (AP)
Updated 25 March 2019
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Suspected cholera cases in Yemen spike in 2019: UN

  • The UN office for humanitarian affairs (OCHA) said children under the age of five make up nearly a third of 108,889 cases
  • More than one million suspected cases were reported within an eight-month period that year

SANAA: Nearly 110,000 suspected cases of cholera have been reported in war-hit Yemen since the beginning of January, including 190 related deaths, the UN said on Monday.
The UN office for humanitarian affairs (OCHA) said children under the age of five make up nearly a third of 108,889 cases which were reported between January 1 and March 17.
OCHA said the spike, which comes two years after Yemen suffered its worst cholera outbreak, was concentrated in six governorates including in the Red Sea port of Hodeida and the Sanaa province home to the capital.
Early rains could be blamed for the recent increase in suspected cholera cases, it said.
"The situation is exacerbated by poor maintenance of sewage disposal systems in many of the affected districts, the use of contaminated water for irrigation, and population movements," OCHA added.
The waterborne disease is endemic to Yemen, which witnessed the worst cholera outbreak in its modern history in 2017.
More than one million suspected cases were reported within an eight-month period that year. More than 2,500 people died of the infection between April and December 2017.


Iraqi cleric Al-Sadr threatens to withdraw support for Abdul Mahdi’s government

Iraqi Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr. (AFP)
Updated 4 min 31 sec ago
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Iraqi cleric Al-Sadr threatens to withdraw support for Abdul Mahdi’s government

  • “No one can predict what Al-Sadr thinks and even his MPs do not know what the man thinks, so it is likely that this threat is part of the ongoing negotiations”

BAGHDAD: Moqtada Al-Sadr, the powerful Iraqi Shiite cleric, on Monday threatened to withdraw his support for the government of Adel Abdul Mahdi if the prime minister fails to finalize the formation of his Cabinet within 10 days.
Al-Sadr is one of the most influential clerics in the country, with millions of followers, a large armed faction and a parliamentary bloc. He is the official sponsor of the Reform Alliance, the second-largest parliamentary coalition, which is overseeing the formation of the government following the national parliamentary elections in May last year. The removal of his support for Abdul Mahdi’s government might take the form of an announcement that he no longer has confidence in the Parliament, or the organization of mass demonstrations.
Abdul Mahdi, who became prime minister in October, formed his government with the support of Reform and the pro-Iranian Construction coalition. The latter is led by Hadi Al-Amiri, the commander of Badr Organization, one of the most powerful Shiite armed factions. However, disputes between the two alliances over some of the candidates erupted at the last minute, as a result of which four ministries remain vacant: Interior, defense, education and justice.

Monday’s statement, which was signed by Al-Sadr and described as his “last call,” was addressed to his Saeiroon parliamentary bloc, the leaders of all political blocs, and Abdul Mahdi. It was issued in response to criticism on social on Monday because of the vote by members of the parliamentary blocs, including Al-Sadr’s MPs, the day before to grant all the privileges enjoyed by the former MPs to the deputies who ruled out by the Federal Supreme Court due to the error of counting their votes.
“All the political blocs must authorize the prime minister to complete his ministerial Cabinet within 10 days…and he (Abdul Mahdi) must choose (the ministers) according to the standards of integrity, efficiency and specialization, or I will not support him,” Al-Sadr’s statement read.

His position is the latest in a series of events that have put pressure on Abdul Mahdi in recent weeks. These include efforts by some political blocs, including Saeiroon, to dismiss a number of ministers under the pretext of failure to improve services and inability to combat the financial and administrative corruption that is rampant in their departments.
While most political leaders believe that reaching a political agreement on candidates to fill the vacant ministries within 10 days “will be very difficult” and predict “this may be the end of the government of Abdul Mahdi,” some believe that Al-Sadr’s goal is to pile more pressure on Abdul Mahdi as a way to obtain certain concessions.

“Saeiroon is still negotiating with the prime minister and the other political partners to obtain some key government posts that its rivals are looking to get, and Abdul Mahdi refused to give them to the Saeiroon candidates, so this could be a part of this,” said a prominent Shiite negotiator who asked not to be named. “No one can predict what Al-Sadr thinks and even his MPs do not know what the man thinks, so it is likely that this threat is part of the ongoing negotiations."