Medical charity warns of looming health catastrophe in Kenya refugee camps

Nairobi, May 30 (EFE).– The French medical charity Doctors Without Borders, or MSF, Tuesday warned of a looming health catastrophe in Kenya’s Dadaab refugee camps hit by a cholera outbreak.

The disease has affected 2,786 people amid an imminent risk of outbreaks of more gastrointestinal diseases at the three refugee camps that make up the Dadaab complex in Kenya’s northeast.

The complex is home to over 300,000 refugees, most from neighboring Somalia.

The health charity has called for immediate action from donors and aid agencies to address the unsanitary conditions and overcrowding in the camps.

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

“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.”

The Kenyan health ministry and humanitarian agencies have carried out cholera vaccinations and health promotion campaigns to help people protect themselves from the disease. But curbing the outbreak will require improvements to water and sanitation infrastructure.

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.

MSF runs a hospital in Dagahaley, one of the three camps that make up Dadaab.

The charity said its teams reported more than 1,120 cases of cholera and two deaths in Dagahaley alone since the start of the outbreak in November 2022.

The Kenyan government has announced plans to reopen a fourth camp to accommodate new arrivals and alleviate the strain on resources in the existing camps.

MSF calls on the international community, donors, and aid agencies to respond urgently to the unfolding crisis in Dadaab and to take immediate action to address the alarming sanitary conditions and prevent the further spread of disease.

“We call on the government of Kenya and the UNHCR to find durable solutions for the refugees confined within the camps at Dadaab,” the MSF statement said. EFE


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