“Seventy-eight children under 16 have already died in the outbreak of dengue-related illness in Yemen, with more than 52,000 suspected cases being recorded across the country,” Save the Children said in a statement on Tuesday.
The aid group added this “could signal the start of an epidemic.”
It noted that a total of 192 people died in Yemen last year from dengue-related illnesses, and the most cases were reported in the port cities of Hudaydah as well as Aden.
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“Hudaydah has the second highest death rate in the country with 62 adult and children deaths in 2019. We have never seen anything like this before,” Save the Children’s field coordinator in Yemen, Mariam Aldogani, said.
“More than 40 of our staff including their families have been affected by the fever,” Aldogani, who is herself recovering from dengue fever, added.
Back in November, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) announced that Yemen was already grappling with an epidemic of dengue fever.
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Dengue fever is a painful and debilitating disease caused by viruses transmitted by mosquitoes that breed in stagnant water.
Saudi Arabia and a number of its regional allies launched a devastating campaign against Yemen in March 2015, with the goal of bringing the government of former president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi back to power and crushing the Houthi Ansarullah movement.
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The US-based Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED), a nonprofit conflict-research organization, estimates that the war has claimed more than 100,000 lives over the past four and a half years.
The war has also taken a heavy toll on the country’s infrastructure, destroying hospitals, schools, and factories. The UN says over 24 million Yemenis are in dire need of humanitarian aid, including 10 million suffering from extreme levels of hunger.