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crisis in yemen

Yemen is suffering a cholera epidemic, and a Saudi airstrike just hit a crucial water facility

An airstrike by the U.S.-enabled Saudi coalition intervening in Yemen's civil war hit crucial water supply facilities in the port city of Hodeida, the United Nations reported Sunday.

Loss of significant water infrastructure in a city of 600,000 would be catastrophic under any circumstances, but like much of Yemen, Hodeida is also suffering a cholera epidemic. Cholera is a waterborne illness that has infected more than 1 million Yemenis. Destruction of the plant that sanitizes and supplies the majority of the city's water will dangerously accelerate the disease's spread.

"Damage to sanitation, water, and health facilities jeopardizes everything that we are trying to do," said U.N. humanitarian coordinator Lise Grande. "We could be one airstrike away from an unstoppable [cholera] epidemic."

The United Nations has urged the American-supported Saudi coalition to cease its assault on Hodeida, through which 70 percent of Yemen's food supplies arrive. Yemen is on the brink of famine, so completely shuttering the blockaded port could lead to mass civilian starvation. Already millions of Yemenis are at risk of starving to death, and more than 100 Yemeni children die daily from starvation and preventable diseases.