Charity seeks funds to avert looming cholera outbreak at refugee camps in Kenya

GARISSA, Kenya, May 30 (Xinhua) -- The international medical charity, Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), on Tuesday appealed for urgent funding to avert an outbreak of cholera at the refugee camps in northeastern Kenya.

The charity said the cholera outbreak in the camps has affected 2,786 people so far and there is an imminent risk of outbreaks of other gastro-intestinal diseases.

"The gravity of the situation demands urgent attention, particularly in the areas of water, sanitation, and hygiene," said Hassan Maiyaki, MSF country director in Kenya, in a statement.

The MSF called for immediate action from donors and aid agencies to address the unsanitary conditions and overcrowding in the camps, which mainly host refugees from Somalia.

According to the charity, the current cholera outbreak is linked to reductions in essential water and sanitation activities in the camps, including providing clean water, distributing soap, constructing and repairing latrines, and organizing waste management.

According to the MSF, the three refugee camps, which make up the Dadaab complex, located in Kenya's northeastern region, are home to more than 300,000 refugees, most from neighboring Somalia. Their population has grown rapidly in recent months due to an extended drought in Somalia, leading to severe overcrowding and increased pressure on existing services, including supplies of drinking water and latrines.

"We have already seen the worst cholera outbreak in five years, and the risk of other epidemics breaking out is high. If this occurs, it would outstrip medical capacity in the camps, with potentially catastrophic consequences," Maiyaki said.

Humanitarian organizations working in the camps have said almost half of the people in the camps have no access to functional latrines, leading to open defecation in and around the camps, which raises the risk of disease outbreaks.

The Kenyan Ministry of Health as well as humanitarian agencies have carried out cholera vaccinations and health promotion campaigns to help people protect themselves from the disease, but the MSF said curbing the outbreak will require improvements to water and sanitation infrastructure.

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