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Girls are treated for a suspected cholera infection at a hospital in Sanaa, Yemen, Monday, May. 15, 2017. The U.N. humanitarian coordinator in Yemen says a cholera outbreak has killed 115 people over the past two weeks. (AP Photo/Hani Mohammed)

There are more than 200,000 suspected cholera cases in war-torn Yemen


The United Nations health agency said on Saturday there are now more than 200,000 suspected cholera cases in Yemen, an Arab country home to about 25.6 million in Western Asia. That means the outbreak is increasing at an average rate of about 5,000 cases per day, affecting many of whom are children, according to a World Health Organization statement.

"We are now facing the worst cholera outbreak in the world," Executive Director of UNICEF Anthony Lake and Director-General of WHO said.

Roughly 1,300 people have already died from cholera--a bacterial disease using spread in water that causes severe diarrhea and dehydration. About 25 percent of those who have died are children.

According to the WHO, the deadly outbreak is "the direct consequence" of two years of heavy conflict. Many health, water and sanitation systems have cut off more than half of the country's population from regular access to clean water and sanitation, which has expedited the disease's spread. 

Who is to blame for the cholera outbreak in Yemen? - Inside Story

WATCH | Al Jazeera English takes a look inside the country health epidemic. 

In addition, rising levels of malnutrition play a substantial role in the prevalence of cholera by compromising children's immune systems and making them more vulnerable to disease. 

The disease, which can easily be treated with a simple rehydration solution, has also greatly affected field workers hoping to contain cholera's spread. About 30,000 workers have not been paid their salaries in nearly 10 months.

Yemen has long been plagued by violence and conflict. A wave of protests in 2011 inspired by the Arab Spring uprisings in nearby Tunisia and Egypt forced then-President Ali Abdallah Saleh to resign. But the country has also become a hotspot for terrorist groups, such as Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State--adding further instability to the Arab nation. 

Since 2014, the country has been engulfed by civil war despite several peace initiatives. 

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