SANAA, Yemen — For months, citizens of this war-torn country have been terrorized by bomb explosions and mortar attacks. Now another threat is growing, which could be just as deadly.
Yemenis are running out of water.
This poor Arabian Peninsula country has faced a severe scarcity of water for decades. But four months of fighting have dramatically worsened the situation, with attacks destroying water pipes, storage tanks and pumping facilities in a number of cities.
The number of Yemenis who lack access to drinking water has almost doubled since the war began, according to the United Nations and aid agencies. Now, they say, more than 20 million people — about 80 percent of Yemen’s population — struggle to find enough water to quench their thirst and bathe.
Diseases such as malaria are spreading, killing hundreds of people, because so many residents are forced to use unsanitary sources of water, health experts say. The crisis is compounding a humanitarian emergency that already has prompted U.N. officials and aid workers to warn of famine.
If the shortages aren’t alleviated soon, there could be large-scale epidemics and many more deaths, said Ahmed Shadoul, the World Health Organization’s head of mission in Yemen.