AFRICA/NIGER - Fear of further outbreaks of cholera in refugee camps

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Niamey (Agenzia Fides) - In Niger, a cholera epidemic has affected 248 people in Ayorou, in the northwestern region of Tillabéry. According to the health offices of Tillabéry and the United Nations Agency for Refugees (UNHCR), six deaths have been recorded so far, two of them are refugees from Mali. Among the 31 infected are refugees living in camps in Tabareybarey and Mangaize, bordering Mali. To try to contain the phenomenon, the UNHCR has increased the distribution of drinking water, oral rehydration solutions, soap and disinfectant tablets in refugee camps and surrounding villages, but many drugs are urgently needed. The fear is that cholera can spread rapidly due to the high concentration of refugees in the region. Most of the cases concern the inhabitants of the city of Ayorou, which on Sunday hosts a cattle market frequented by people from all over the region. The Ministry of Health is trying to temporarily close this market, which is right next to the River Niger, suspected source of contamination. It is also prohibited to use, or drink river water, although it is very difficult to keep the situation under control. According to data released by the UNHCR, 5,785 people were infected in the country last year, 110 of whom died. (AP) (Agenzia Fides 23/05/2013)