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Cholera outbreak hits overcrowded Kenyan refugee camp, UN reports

Cholera outbreak hits overcrowded Kenyan refugee camp, UN reports

Clean water is essential in containing the spread of cholera
Kenya’s sprawling and overcrowded Dadaab refugee complex is grappling with a cholera outbreak that has infected 14 people so far, most of them children, and already claimed the life of a three-year-old boy, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reported today.

“Most of the other cases have recovered and been discharged. An 18-month-old boy is in stable condition at the Hagadera Hospital,” UNHCR spokesperson Ron Redmond told reporters in Geneva.

The first case was identified on 29 January in Hagadera, the biggest of the three settlements at the Dadaab camp in north-eastern Kenya – one of the world’s largest refugee camps, hosting nearly 250,000 people.

There is a high risk of the outbreak spreading given the extreme overcrowding at Hagadera, which was designed for 30,000 people but now holds some 100,000 refugees, overstretching water and sanitation services.

A team of six medical specialists from the Kenya Ministry of Health, UNHCR, the World Health Organization (WHO) and other agencies is supporting the doctors in the camp to deal with the outbreak.

Mr. Redmond noted that UNHCR and its partners are finding it difficult to deliver services to refugees due to the congestion in the camp.

“Water supplies are insufficient to meet the needs of the new arrivals and there is not enough space for more latrines to meet the basic health requirement that they be located at least six meters from cooking areas.

“As a result of the overcrowding, some refugees are staying outside the parameters of the camp where there are no sanitation facilities at all,” he stated.

UNHCR has recently received a commitment from Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga that his Government will provide land to set up a new refugee camp in north-eastern Kenya to take the pressure off the Dadaab complex.