As violence and displacement worsens in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo, the country’s children are facing the worst cholera outbreak since 2017.
The United Nations Children Emergency Fund, Unicef, recorded at least 31,342 suspected or confirmed cholera cases and 230 deaths, many of them children, in the first seven months of 2023.
The figure is well over the 18,403 suspected cases recorded the year before.
The spread is even worse in war-battered North-Kivu province, where more than 21,400 confirmed or suspected cholera cases have been recorded this year alone. More than 8,000 children under five have been affected.
Grant Leaity, Unicef representative for the DRC, says insecurity in the country's east has caused massive displacement which in turn has caused this health crisis.
There are now 6.1 million internally displaced people. A total of 1.5 million of them, including 800,000 children, have been displaced since the start of this year.
No access to clean water
"Many of these people are now living in camps around Goma, the provincial capital, that are generally overcrowded and overstretched, making the situation ripe for cholera transmission," Leaity says.
Almost 300,000 people, including 183,000 children, lack access to enough clean water, while "159 people have to share a single latrine".
"This means we are sometimes unable to respond to suspected cases, deliver humanitarian supplies or carry out longer-term development work such as improving water supply infrastructure."
Leaity also said the cholera crisis was likely to worsen with the coming rainy season.
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