May 21, 2015 – Unicef has rushed relief supplies to Tanzania’s north-western border with Burundi, in response to a devastating cholera outbreak among 50,000 Burundian refugees gathered on the shores of Lake Tanganyika.
Unicef has dispatched cholera treatment supplies, as well as water, sanitation, health and nutrition items, shuttled in from Burundi and Tanzania to the affected area. The UN Children’s Fund is now working with partners on both sides of the border to scale up the response.
Burundi’s current unrest has forced more than 110,000 people to flee to neighbouring countries. Most are women and children, and a majority have arrived in Tanzania, where a cholera outbreak has so far claimed 27 lives.
“Children constitute more than half of the population on the move and are particularly vulnerable to cholera,” said Unicef Regional Director for Eastern & Southern Africa, Leila Gharagozloo-Pakkala. “Concerted action by the two counties has fast tracked the dispatch of lifesaving commodities to stem the spread of the outbreak.”
The village of Kagunga has seen the highest number of arrivals, with around 50,000 people camped on its shores, in a remote and hard-to-reach part of Tanzania.
Overcrowding and poor sanitation have resulted in a surge of confirmed or suspected cases of cholera and acute watery diarrhea among the refugees. Unicef warns that without a cholera treatment centre on site in Kagunga, mortality rates may become extremely high.
In Burundi, 15 suspected cases of cholera have been brought to the district hospital of Nyanza Lac. The Burundian Ministry of Health and partners have now re-opened a cholera treatment centre in the area, with support from Unicef.
Relief supplies delivered by Unicef include: a cholera treatment kit for 100 cases, chlorine, soap, water purification tablets and plastic buckets. High-nutrition ready-to-eat food has also been provided by Unicef to cover up to 1,000 vulnerable children for one week.
Amid ongoing confrontations in the capital Bujumbura, Burundians have fled to three neighboring countries - Rwanda, DRC, and Tanzania - where Unicef is on the ground working with partners to provide basic healthcare, nutrition, water, sanitation, child protection and education services.
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