Cholera outbreak hits Ugandan refugee camp

A cholera outbreak has killed two people and affected about 50 others in the largest camp for people who fled their homes to escape an 18-year insurgency in northern Uganda, the United Nations said on Thursday.

The outbreak was triggered by the contamination of water sources and poor sanitary conditions in the Pabbo camp that is home to about 67 000 people, said Chulho Hyun, a spokesperson for the UN children’s agency.

Household latrine coverage at the camp is only 12% and UN investigations have shown that all household domestic water pots are contaminated with faeces, as are two out of 14 boreholes and all six springs in the camp, said the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

Three to four cases of cholera are being reported daily. Aid workers are isolating patients and are urging residents to dig more pit latrines and use chlorinated water to contain the outbreak, UN officials said.

Pabbo camp, a sprawling forest of mushroom-shaped grass huts, is the largest home for the 1,6-million people displaced by the insurgency in northern Uganda.

At least 20 000 people were left homeless on Sunday after a rainstorm destroyed the roofs of more than 3 500 huts at the camp, located about 400km north of the Ugandan capital, Kampala.

Rebels have been fighting President Yoweri Museveni’s government in northern Uganda since 1986 when Museveni, a southerner, seized power after a five-year bush war.
The rebels say they want to overthrow Museveni but have no other stated goal.—Sapa-AP

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