Officials in the Yemeni capital of Sanaa, controlled by the armed Houthi movement, declared a state of emergency on Sunday amid an outbreak of cholera that has killed 115 people from late April to May and left thousands infected.
Calling to avert an “unprecedented disaster,” Yemen’s Health Ministry has urged several humanitarian organizations and aid donors to help deal with the epidemic. Yemen’s health care system has severely deteriorated due to the ongoing civil war that has also displaced millions, the state news agency, Saba, told Reuters.
Yemen is reeling from the conflict between Houthi rebels, aligned with Iran, and a Western-backed, Saudi-led coalition. More than 10,000 people have been killed, mostly by almost-daily air strikes, since the fighting began.
According to the United Nations, only a few medical facilities are still functioning and two-thirds of the population are without access to safe drinking water. Yemen authorities first reported the outbreak in October 2016 and since then the outbreaks of cholera are becoming more frequent. According to World Health Organization Sanaa has been worst hit by the outbreaks, followed by the surrounding province of Amanat al-Semah. Cases in other major cities including Hodeidah, Taiz, and Aden have also been reported.
According to WHO, the medicines and medical supplies, including cholera kits, oral rehydration solutions, and intravenous fluids as well as medical furniture and equipment have been distributed at the diarrhea treatment centers. Ten new treatment centers are being established in affected areas.
Dr. Nevio Zagaria, WHO representative in Yemen, said in a statement, “We are very concerned with the re-emergence of cholera across several areas of Yemen in the past couple of weeks. Efforts must be scaled-up now to contain the outbreak and avoid a dramatic increase in cases of the diarrhoeal disease.”
So far, the diarrheal disease has killed 115 people since late April, according to WHO, and 2,752 people have had suspected cases. WHO estimates nearly 7.6 million people live in areas at high risk of cholera transmission.
“WHO is in full emergency mode to contain the recent upsurge of suspected cholera cases,” Zagaria added. “Containing the spread of the outbreak is a high priority for WHO and we are coordinating efforts with all parties and with our health, water, and sanitation partners to scale up an integrated and effective response to the cholera epidemic.”
According to the U.N., nearly 17 million of Yemen’s 26 million people lack sufficient food and at least three million malnourished children are in “grave peril.”
Marxist Palestinian Hunger-Striking Leader Finally Granted Legal Visit
The start of the weekend also saw heightened clashes between Palestinians demonstrating in solidarity with the prisoners and Israeli occupation forces.
As Palestinian prisoners enter the 28th day of their historic mass hunger strike that they launched on Palestinian Prisoner’s day, April 17, Israel has ramped up its blood-scorched crackdown.
But after weeks of denying the strikers visitors and access to any legal teams, on Sunday it was announced that Ahmad Sa’adat, General Secretary of the Marxist-Leninist Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, PFLP, will finally be granted a legal visit.
Sa’adat joined the strike on May 4, just days after he sent a message from his prison cell on International Worker’s Day, marking the PFLP’s solidarity with both hunger-striking prisoners as well as workers marching throughout the world.
Since launching his strike, he has been transferred from prison to prison on multiple occasions and has been consistently denied all family and legal visits by the Israel Prison Service, IPS. On Sunday, Sa’adat was transferred once again, from isolation in Ashkelon prison to isolation in Ohli Kedar prison, just before his scheduled legal visit with a lawyer from Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association. The visit was finally scheduled after Addameer filed a number of petitions calling for it, requests which the IPS repeatedly denied.
The start of the weekend saw heightened clashes between Palestinians demonstrating in solidarity with the prisoners and Israeli occupation forces. On Friday, 22-year old Saba Obeid was killed by security forces as he marched in a protest supporting of the prisoners in the village of Nabi Saleh, northwest of Ramallah in occupied West Bank.
Deemed “the martyr of dignity,” Obeid was killed after being hit in the chest with a live bullet shot by Israeli forces during the village’s weekly march.
The Palestinian National Committee to Support the Strike issued a statement and call for action following Obeid’s killing, “saluting the heroic spirit of the martyr Saba Obeid, a martyr of the battle of empty stomachs of our brave prisoners in Israeli jails.” The Committee has urgently called for a special session of the United Nations General Assembly to take action at a time when prisoners are facing severe health deterioration and even death.
In addition to Obeid’s death, Friday and Saturday both saw dozens of Palestinians wounded by Israeli occupation forces, who fired tear gas and rubber-coated metal bullets on demonstrators from Nablus to Hebron.
A number of events and actions in support of the prisoners also took place around the world on Saturday, with more scheduled to take place Sunday.
Argentina: Jailed Indigenous Leader Milagro Sala Unmasks Torture, Mistreatment in Prison
Jailed Indigenous activist and lawmaker Milagro Sala denounced Sunday that she and other inmates have been tortured and threatened to death in prison in the Argentine province of Jujuy, where she as been illegally detained for almost a year and a half.
Sala and other women prisoners voiced complaints about abuses in the Alto Comedero prison to Jujuy provincial authorities and a United Nations panel that was visiting the Argentine province in order to report on the human rights situation in the country.
The complaint, which includes “torture,” “use of isolation cells” and “constant harassment,” will be presented to the Inter-American Human Rights Commission on Thursday, reported Argentina’s Pagina 12.
Directly implicated in Sala’s testimony, the prison’s Vice Director Patricia Balcarce was removed from her position before the U.N. visit.
“When I walked in her office, she told me I had to speak for myself, that I came alone, and would leave alone,” said Sala according to Pagina 12. When Sala replied that she came as her fellow inmates’ spokesperson, Balcarce allegedly “hit the board, stood up, slapped me, grabbed my collar and warned me that I’d better not say anything about what happened here.”
Sala added that Balcarce used to respond that all orders came from the state’s Security Minister Ekel Meyer, whom she used to speak to every day.
More than two months ago, Sala — who is also a representative in Parlasur, the parliament of the South America subcontinental bloc Mercosur — had a nervous breakdown in jail and stabbed herself after receiving a set of three new accusations after already suffering one year of preventive detention.
Three other inmates complained about physical mistreatment suffered on April 3, resulting in bruises and even a broken arm for one of them. A local judge rejected the complaint they filed a few days after the abuses.
On Sunday, the U.N. Committee against Torture released a damning report on the human rights situation in Argentina, denouncing torture in prisons, police abuses and arbitrary arrests by federal and state authorities.
Quoting cases of torture like Ezequiel Villanueva and Ivan Navarro, 15 and 18-years-old respectively, the report also mentioned attempted homicides and forced disappearances, urging authorities to address the impunity level immediately.
Last year, the U.N. demanded the government release Sala, while the U.N. Working Group on Arbitrary Detention also called her detention “arbitrary.”
Sala was arrested on Jan. 16, 2016 after staging a month-long sit-in against the local government’s neoliberal policies under Jujuy Governor Gerardo Morales, an ally of President Mauricio Macri. Political authorities of Jujuy accused Sala of embezzlement and alleged she used “authoritarian and violent methods” while running community initiatives and leading social protests.
As leader of Tupac Amaru, an organization with some 70,000 members, Sala ran a social housing program and other community-led projects prior to her detention and has been a key player in organizing the resistance movement against austerity policies in the province and in the country.