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News: Cholera outbreak spreads into camps sheltering refugees mainly from Sudan

Kumer refugee camp in the Amhara region has reached its maximum capacity, currently accommodating 9,891 refugees and asylum seekers (Photo:

Addis Abeba – Since the outbreak was first reported in July 2023, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has reported at least 2,500 cases of cholera across 25 woredas in Amhara. The Ethiopian Public Health Institute has confirmed sixteen cholera cases in Metema. In Kumer, a refugee site located 70 kilometers from Metema that houses around 10,000 refugees and asylum seekers, the Regional Public Health Institute has reported approximately 190 suspected cholera cases and four deaths.

Metema is a major destination for refugees and asylum seekers arriving from Sudan, with official statistics indicating that 78,589 individuals have crossed the border into Ethiopia since the ongoing conflict erupted in Sudan in mid-April 2023 between the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF).

OCHA has highlighted that the Kumer refugee site in Amhara region has reached its maximum capacity, currently accommodating 9,891 refugees and asylum seekers relocated from the Metema border. The UN agency said efforts are underway to transfer these individuals to a new site in Awulala, although security concerns in the region pose significant challenges to the relocation operations. In order to provide urgent assistance to the newly arrived refugees and asylum seekers from Sudan in Ethiopia, a $5 million allocation from the United Nations’ Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) was approved on 4 July, 2023.

Two weeks ago, OCHA reported a worrisome increase in the number of cholera cases in Ethiopia. As of 02 August, 2023, there had been over 16,800 reported cases, resulting in 212 deaths. The regions predominantly affected by this outbreak are Oromia, Sidama, and Somali.

Another report published in May 2023 revealed that a total of 6,157 cholera cases had been reported across 348 kebeles in 54 woredas. This outbreak has tragically caused 94 fatalities, making it one of the most persistent outbreaks witnessed in the country. OCHA has emphasized the heightened risk of cholera affecting almost 7 million people in Ethiopia as the outbreak continues to spread to additional regions. AS

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