In just over two weeks, another 100,000 people have been infected – an increase the ICRC’s Middle East regional director Roberto Mardini called “disturbing”.
On July 8, the WHO said that 297,438 cases had been recorded, but the agency was still analyzing the latest figures from the Yemeni health ministry on Monday.
The outbreak has affected all but one of Yemen’s 23 provinces. The four most affected provinces – Sanaa, Hudaydah, Hajja and Amran – have reported almost half of the cases.
UN agencies say the outbreak is the direct consequence of the civil war, with 14.5 million people cut off from regular access to clean water and sanitation.
More than half of health facilities are no longer functioning, with almost 300 having been damaged or destroyed, and some 30,000 local health workers who are key to dealing with the outbreak have not been paid for 10 months.
Rising rates of malnutrition have weakened the health of vulnerable people – above all children under the age of 15 and the elderly – and made them more vulnerable to the disease.
Last week, the UN’s humanitarian co-ordinator in Yemen warned that humanitarian organizations had been forced to divert resources away from combating malnutrition to deal with the cholera outbreak, raising the risk of a famine.
The Kremlin announced it was working with the Red Cross on sending a humanitarian aid convoy to Ukraine and EU Commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso has told President Vladimir Putin not to carry out unilateral military action in the region under any pretext.
NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen has accused Russia of using humanitarian grounds as a pretext for military intervention in eastern Ukraine.
At least 1,500 people have died since Ukraine’s new government sent in troops to put down an insurrection by pro-Russia separatists in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions in mid-April.
The fighting has displaced hundreds of thousands of people, many of whom have fled to Russia.
Russia is accused of using humanitarian grounds as a pretext for military intervention in eastern Ukraine
Ukrainian forces have now encircled Donetsk, a city of one million people before the unrest began, and residents are struggling without power or reliable sources of food.
In a statement after Vladimir Putin’s conversation with Jose Manuel Barroso, the Kremlin said: “It was noted that the Russian side, in cooperation with representatives of the International Committee of the Red Cross, will send to Ukraine a humanitarian convoy.”
It did not say when the aid convoy would leave. The Red Cross acknowledged last week that it had received an offer from the Russian foreign minister about organizing aid convoys to the affected areas in Ukraine.
The Ukrainian government in Kiev and Western powers fear that a Russian humanitarian mission in the east could be used as a pretext to bring Russian military forces across the border.
In a telephone conversation with President Vladimir Putin on Monday, Jose Manuel Barroso “warned against any unilateral military actions in Ukraine, under any pretext, including humanitarian,” an EU commission statement said.
Jose Manuel Barroso made a separate telephone call to Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko to discuss the situation in Luhansk, it added.
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) says it faces unprecedented challenges in the complex age of modern warfare as it celebrates its 150th anniversary.
These include “new weapons [and] new types of actors coming into conflict”, ICRC chief Peter Maurer said.
The world’s oldest aid organization recently warned it was unable to cope with the “catastrophic” humanitarian crisis in Syria.
The movement currently employs 13,000 people working in 92 countries.
The movement was founded by a Geneva businessman, Henri Dunant, in 1863 in response to the suffering of injured soldiers abandoned on the battlefield of Solferino in northern Italy.
Horrified by what he saw, he documented the slaughter in his book, A Memory of Solferino, and decided to create an organization dedicated to helping war wounded.
Today, the ICRC, together with the Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent societies, has become a worldwide movement with tens of thousands of workers and volunteers.
In addition to delivering aid, the organization also aims to ensure that the rules of war are respected in conflict zones, and has a responsibility for looking after the rights of prisoners of war.
But the organization now faces challenges not foreseen in the original Geneva conventions.
At Solferino, there was just one civilian casualty, whereas nowadays it is estimated civilians make up more than 90% of war victims.
The International Committee of the Red Cross says it faces unprecedented challenges in the complex age of modern warfare as it celebrates its 150th anniversary
Warfare in the 21st Century is complex and chaotic, in part because of new weapons such as drones, conflicts – like that in Syria – with multiple armed groups, and shifting frontlines, said Peter Maurer.
“We see conflicts when one convoy has to overcome 35 roadblocks before the convoy gets to areas where food and medicine can be distributed,” he added.
Last November, the ICRC issued a warning over Syria’s escalating humanitarian crisis.
The constantly moving nature of the conflict meant it could not plan, but instead had to seize opportunities for aid delivery on a day-to-day basis, the organization said.
As a result, relief workers were unable to access certain parts of the country.
Despite its strong reputation, the record of the ICRC is not perfect.
Its policy of confidentiality led it to keep silent about Nazi concentration camps in WW2.
Confronted by widespread criticism, the organization was later forced to issue an apology. It said it had feared that speaking out would jeopardize its access to allied prisoners.
Red Cross: Key dates
17 February 1863: Launch of the International Committee for Relief to Wounded Soldiers, later to become the International Committee of the Red Cross.
26-29 October 1863: Creation of National Societies and adoption of the red cross as a protective emblem
22 August 1864: The original Geneva Convention is adopted to protect the sick and wounded in armies in the field. Paves the way for the 1949 Geneva Conventions.
27 July 1929: Red crescent is officially recognized as a protective emblem.