UN braces for cholera outbreak

Over 17,000 refugees have fled from Burundi to Tanzania. Photo: Ssuuna/IRIN

The UN is ‘preparing for the worst’ as it appears a cholera outbreak may have hit Burundi refugees in Tanzania. Seven have died and hundreds are sick. Photo: Ssuuna/IRIN

Seven Burundi refugees in Tanzania have died and hundreds are sick as the United Nations braces for a cholera outbreak.

The UN refugee agency is working with the Ministry of Health and international partners to “prepare for the worst and quickly establish a cholera treatment centre,” says Tanzania’s UNHCR representative Joyce Mends-Cole.

A preliminary diagnosis of cholera has been established, however the UN is waiting on official confirmation from a reference laboratory.

Another 77 Burundians in Nyarugusu in the western province of Kigoma are being treated for severe watery diarrhea.

Some 300 people are being treated for watery diarrhea at Kagunga near the Tanzanian border and at the Stadium in Kigoma.

Medication, diagnostic and treatment facilities are all lacking and need to be flown in, says Mends-Cole.

More than 70,000 refugees have arrived in Tanzania since the unrest in Burundi began in April, many of which the UN says are living in ‘extremely dire’ living conditions.

The number of refugees arriving has risen sharply in recent days following the coup attempt last Wednesday.

Read more: ‘Tens of thousands’ more refugees coming

Read more: EAC condemns Burundi coup

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