Cholera Outbreak Threatens Aid Efforts in Dadaab Refugee Camp

A nurse prepares medication for patients at a clinic in Dadaab, Kenya. The United Nations says there are now 60 reported cholera cases in Dadaab, including one refugee death. Photo by: Internews Network / CC By-NC-SA

U.N. agencies and their partners have stepped up efforts to address and prevent the spread of cholera cases in the world’s largest refugee camp complex, the Dadaab camp in Kenya, which is home mostly to Somalis who have fled fighting and famine in their country.

The United Nations says there are now 60 reported cholera cases in Dadaab, including one refugee death. Andrej Mahecic, spokesperson for the office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, said the cholera is believed to have started among new arrivals who either acquired it in Somalia or on the way to the camp.

The United Nations said the cholera outbreak and continued heavy rains have exacerbated the situation in a camp where aid efforts are already complicated by security issues and other factors. Two Spanish aid workers were kidnapped from Dadaab in October by suspected members of the Somalia-based al-Shabab militant group.

To manage the outbreak, UNHCR and its partner aid groups have set up treatment centers for severe cholera cases, increased the levels of chlorine in water points around the camp, and launched campaigns to promote hygiene practices among refugees, Mahecic said. UNICEF, meanwhile, is helping train health workers in the community-based management of diarrhea, which is part of at-home treatment for cholera.

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About the author

  • Ivy Mungcal

    As former senior staff writer, Ivy Mungcal contributed to several Devex publications. Her focus is on breaking news, and in particular on global aid reform and trends in the United States, Europe, the Caribbean, and the Americas. Before joining Devex in 2009, Ivy produced specialized content for U.S. and U.K.-based business websites.