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UN health agency issues cholera alert for Somalia

UN health agency issues cholera alert for Somalia

The United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) has warned of an imminent risk of cholera in southern Somalia, where tens of thousands of people were affected by a previous outbreak which killed over 1,000 just a few months ago.

Seven new cases have been confirmed so far in the capital, Mogadishu, as well as Berdale and Burhakaba.

WHO says the new cases represent an even more serious threat than the outbreak that occurred three months ago which affected more than 37,000 people and led to over 1,100 deaths.

The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has begun delivering cholera kits and oral rehydration therapy supplies to the area.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reports that the flood alert was raised from moderate to high on the Shabelle and Juba Rivers following significant rainfall in South Somalia and the Ethiopian highlands where the two rivers originate. An inter-agency mission to assess the situation and possible interventions is being planned.

Meanwhile, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reports that, in a two-way flow of displaced, nearly 31,000 people fled ongoing insecurity, sporadic violence and looting in Mogadishu since the beginning of September, while nearly 800 internally displaced persons (IDPs) returned to the Somali capital.

In addition, nearly 7,300 residents and IDPs have been evicted from their homes in government and public buildings since June, according to UNHCR’s Population Movement Tracking.

Somalia, which has had no functioning central government since the regime of Muhammad Siad Barre was toppled in 1991, has seen renewed fighting since the beginning of this year, after the Ethiopian-backed Transitional Federal Government (TFG) drove the Union of the Islamic Courts (UIC) out of Mogadishu and most of the rest of the country in December.

Since the onset of fighting in January, UNHCR reports that between February and May, about 400,000 IDPs moved from Mogadishu, with about 125,000 returning between April and June. Since June, nearly 85,000 people have moved from the capital.