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更新时间:2017-8-25 9:55:40 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

‘It’s a Slow Death’: The World’s Worst Humanitarian Crisis

SANAA, Yemen — After 2 1/2 years of war, little is functioning in Yemen.


Repeated bombings have crippled bridges, hospitals and factories. Many doctors and civil servants have gone unpaid for more than a year. Malnutrition and poor sanitation have made the Middle Eastern country vulnerable to diseases that most of the world has confined to the history books.


In just three months, cholera has killed nearly 2,000 people and infected more than half a million, one of the world’s largest outbreaks in the past 50 years.


“It’s a slow death,” said Yakoub al-Jayefi, a Yemeni soldier who has not collected a salary in eight months, and whose 6-year-old daughter, Shaima, was being treated for malnutrition at a clinic in the Yemeni capital, Sanaa.

“这是一场缓慢的死亡,”也门士兵雅各布·阿-杰菲(Yakoub al-Jayefi)说。他已经8个月没有领到工资,而他6岁的女儿莎依玛正在首都萨那的一家诊所接受营养不良治疗。

Since the family’s savings ran out, they had lived mostly off milk and yogurt from neighbors. But that wasn’t enough to keep his daughter healthy, and her skin went pale as she grew thin.


Like more than half of Yemenis, the family did not have immediate access to a working medical center, so Jayefi borrowed money from friends and relatives to take his daughter to the capital.


“We’re just waiting for doom or for a breakthrough from heaven,” he said.


How did a country in a region with such great wealth, and under the close watch of the United States and Saudi Arabia, fall so swiftly into crisis?


Yemen has long been the Arab world’s poorest country and suffered from frequent local armed conflicts. The most recent trouble started in 2014, when the Houthis, rebels from the north, allied with parts of the Yemeni military and stormed the capital, forcing the internationally recognized government into exile.


In March 2015, Saudi Arabia and a coalition of Arab nations launched a military campaign aimed at pushing back the Houthis and restoring the government.


The campaign has so far failed to do so, and the country remains split between Houthi-controlled territory in the west and land controlled by the government and its Arab backers in the south and east.


Many coalition airstrikes have killed and wounded civilians, including strikes on Wednesday around the capital. The bombings have also heavily damaged Yemen’s infrastructure, including a crucial seaport and important bridges as well as hospitals, sewage facilities and civilian factories.


Services that Yemenis have depended on are gone, and the destruction has undermined the country’s already weak economy. It has also made it harder for humanitarian organizations to bring in and distribute aid.


The Saudi-led coalition has also kept Sanaa’s international airport closed to civilian air traffic for more than a year, meaning that merchants cannot fly goods in, and sick and wounded Yemenis cannot fly abroad for treatment. Many of them have died.


Neither of Yemen’s two competing administrations has paid regular salaries to many civil servants in over a year, impoverishing their families as there is little other work to be found. Among those affected are professionals whose work is essential to dealing with the crisis, like doctors, nurses and sewage system technicians, leading to the near collapse of their sectors.


Damage from the war has turned Yemen into a fertile environment for cholera, a bacterial infection spread by water contaminated with feces. As garbage has piled up and sewage systems have failed, more Yemenis are relying on easily polluted wells for drinking water. Heavy rains since April accelerated the wells’ contamination.


In developed countries, cholera is not life-threatening and can be easily treated, with antibiotics if severe. But in Yemen, rampant malnutrition has made many people, particularly children, especially vulnerable to the disease.


“With the malnutrition we have among children, if they get diarrhea, they are not going to get better,” said Meritxell Relano, the United Nations Children’s Fund representative in Yemen.

“由于这里的儿童营养不良,如果他们有腹泻,就不会康复,”联合国儿童基金会也门代表梅莉赤尔·雷兰诺(Meritxell Relano)说。

The United Nations has called the situation the world’s largest humanitarian crisis, with more than 10 million people who require immediate assistance. And the situation could become even worse. The United Nations says that Yemen needs $2.3 billion in humanitarian aid this year, but that only 41 percent of that amount has been received.


Peter Salama, the executive director of the World Health Organization’s health emergencies program, warned that as the state fails, “the manifestation of that now is cholera, but there could be in the future other epidemics that Yemen could be at the center of.”

世界卫生组织(World Health Organization)突发卫生事件项目执行主管彼得·萨拉马(Peter Salama)警告说,当政府不能履行职责的时候,“当下的表现是霍乱,但也门未来可能还会成为其他流行病发作的中心。”