THE cholera outbreak in war-torn Yemen is the worst anywhere since modern records began.

The killer disease took hold in the embattled country — already one of the poorest in the world before the bloody internal war began in 2015 — just three months ago.

However, more than 360,000 suspected cases have been recorded since late April.

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The figure marks the highest number of cases recorded in any country in a single year since records began in 1949.

But with the country’s rainy season now getting under way and no end in sight to the war and a blockade crippling health services, it is feared that the total may rise to more than 600,000.

The estimate is in stark contrast to the cholera outbreak that struck Haiti in 2011, when 340,311 cases were recorded in just 12 months, setting a new record at the time.

Almost 2,000 people are understood to have died from cholera in Yemen already, with malnutrition, poverty, war and a lack of medicines threatening further deaths.

With the fighting stretching over all but one outlying region of the 25 million-strong country, many clinics and hospitals have been destroyed or badly damaged and families can face arduous journeys to secure healthcare.

The costs of travel and treatment are too high for some and severe damage to sanitation and food and medical supplies mean remaining medics are struggling to care for patients.

Nigel Timmins, of Oxfam, who recently returned from Yemen, said: “It is quite frankly staggering that in just three months more people in Yemen have contracted cholera than any country has suffered in a single year since modern records began.

“Cholera has spread unchecked in a country already on its knees after two years of war and which is teetering on the brink of famine. For many people, weakened by war and hunger, cholera is the knockout blow.

“This is a massive crisis needing a massive response – if anything, the numbers we have are likely to underestimate the scale of the crisis.

“So far funding from government donors to pay for the aid effort has been lacklustre at best, less than half is what is needed.”

An estimated 5,000 people have died since Yemen’s war began, many in aerial bombardments.

Yesterday UNHCR said around 20 people were killed in one attack in the Taizz region, most of whom were members of the same family.

The world’s major arms exporters, including the UK and US, are making more money from arming the Saudi-led coalition fighting anti-government Houthi rebels in Yemen than they are on the humanitarian response.

Last year, Saudi Arabia spent almost $3 billion on arms from the world’s major arms exporters. As of this month, many of those same governments had given just $620m toward the $2.1b UN appeal for Yemen.

Oxfam is calling for an immediate ceasefire to enable a nationwide cholera campaign to tackle the disease and reopen ports and the airport in capital city Sanaa.

Timmins said: “Cholera is easy to treat and simple to prevent.

“We need a massive well coordinated effort to get clean water and decent sanitation to people and simple things like soap to keep them safe from disease.

“The war has destroyed the economy and left millions without jobs or the means to earn a living and forced 3m people to flee their homes. It has precipitated a crisis which has left 7m people on the brink of starvation.

“Vital public servants such as health workers have not been paid for nearly a year.

“Hospitals, ports, roads and bridges have been bombed. All this is crippling efforts to tackle the cholera crisis.

“Those countries providing the arms and military support, such as the US and the UK, are fuelling a war that is causing wide-spread suffering and tipping a whole nation towards a catastrophe.

“It is hard to imagine how much more Yemen can take before it collapses entirely.”