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Cholera Outbreak At Kenya's Dadaab Refugee Camp

Cholera has broken out at the world’s largest refugee camp in Kenya, according to the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

The Dadaab refugee camp is home to more than 400,000 refugees, most of which come from neighboring Somalia.

Somali refugees have been continuously migrating across Somalia’s borders and into camps in neighboring countries in search of food, water, shelter and safety.

The Geneva-based UNHCR said that one person has already died from the outbreak and 60 other cases have emerged.

Cholera is a water-born disease that spreads through consumption of contaminated water or food.

Cholera is a pervasive problem in Somalia, where famine, extremism, lawlessness and poverty have pushed people out of their homes and in search of refuge.

It is believed that the outbreak in Kenya started from newly arriving refugees who carried the disease with them from Somalia or contracted it en route by drinking contaminated water in flooded areas.

Somalis travel across a vast and unforgiving desert for days before they can even make it into Kenya’s border and many arrive malnourished and in poor health.

Kenya’s Dadaab refugee camp is already overcrowded and heavy rains and insecurity in neighboring Somalia are hampering aid efforts at the camp.

Last month two aid workers from Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) were kidnapped. Kenyan officials believe the aid workers were kidnapped by Somali militant group Al Shabab.

Andrej Mahecic, a spokesman for the U.N. agency for refugees, told reporters at a news briefing, “We are talking about a very volatile situation along the border with the situation in Somalia not getting any better.”

Mahecic also expressed concerns about rain and heavy flooding that affected the trucking of water to parts of Dadaab camps saying “we fear some refugees resorted to using unsafe water from flooded areas.”

UNHCR and partner agencies have set up emergency outposts to deal with the most pressing cases of cholera.

The agency is also promoting hygiene practices among refugees and giving soap with food distributions, according to Mahecic.

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