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UNHCR reports cholera outbreak Kenya's refugee camp

11-16-2011 15:44 BJT

NAIROBI, Nov. 15 (Xinhua) -- The UN refugee agency said on Tuesday there has been an outbreak of cholera in Dadaab, the world's largest refugee camp in Kenya, which is believed to have started among new arrivals who had most likely acquired it in Somalia or en route to the camp.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said the situation in Dadaab, home to Somalis fleeing famine and conflict, is being exacerbated by heavy rains and accompanying risks of waterborne diseases.

"Rains and flooding had affected the trucking of water to parts of the camps, and we fear some refugees resorted to using unsafe water from flooded areas," the UN refugee agency said in a statement released in Nairobi.

According to UNHCR, there are now 60 cases in the camps, including 10 laboratory-confirmed cases and one refugee death. To manage the outbreak, UNHCR and partners have set up cholera treatment centres for severe cases, it said.

The UN agency deplored insecurity which it said continues to affect aid efforts more than a month after the kidnapping of three aid workers in Kenya's Dadaab refugee complex.

The UNHCR says insecurity is still hampering aid efforts in the area, despite the deployment of 100 Kenyan policemen in the last month.

UNHCR is assisting them with vehicles, shelter and telecommunications equipment.

"Together with our partners, we are exploring options to gradually resume full operations despite continued security incidents in and around Dadaab. In the meantime, refugees are still receiving life-saving aid, namely food, water and health care," it said.

According to the agency, most cases can be managed through oral rehydration solutions (ORS) that can be given at home or at the health posts.

"We are working with UNICEF and the Ministry of Health to train health workers in the community-based management of diarrhoea so that patients can begin treatment at home," it said.

UNHCR said it has increased levels of chlorine, which kills cholera-causing bacteria, at water points in the camps. These, it said, are monitored to make sure they are maintained at the correct levels.

"We are also promoting hygiene practices among the refugees, especially the use of latrines and hand washing with soap. Each refugee received 250 grams of soap with the latest food distribution and this will continue monthly for several months," UNHCR said.

Dadaab is home to more than 400,000 registered refugees, nearly all of them Somali, with an estimated 70,000 people having arrived in July and August as conditions in their homeland rapidly deteriorated.

Editor:Wang Xiaomei |Source: Xinhua

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