The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugee in the Near East (UNRWA) in the West Bank confirms that joint work between the Agency and the Palestinian Ministry of Health (MoH) to contain the diarrhea outbreak in Fawwar camp is ongoing.
As of Wednesday, 18 October, around 330 cases reported to the UNRWA health centre in Fawwar refugee camp suffering from fever, headache, abdominal pain, vomiting and diarrhea. The patients’ age varied between 1 to 15 years. Four cases were referred to nearby hospitals.
UNRWA lab tests revealed that the outbreak was caused by the Shigella bacteria group known for targeting the digestive system and causing diarrhea with an incubation period of two to three days that could be extended up to seven days. UNRWA and the relevant partners continue to work on identifying the exact reasons for this outbreak.
The UNRWA Chief of Health in the West Bank, Dr. Mohammad Khalili, stressed that all the health and engineering departments, as well as the environmental health unit, have formed a team led by the Deputy Director of UNRWA Operations in the West Bank, Meg Audette, to address the situation in the camp. He added, “UNRWA is working closely together with teams from the MoH, the Palestinian Water Authority (PWA), Hebron municipality, the Hebron governorate, the popular servicers committee and other local community stakeholders. We are all working together, conducting visits to shelters in the camp to inspect the drinking water and the sewage network, especially the water chlorination. We have issued our instructions to the camp's residents to boil the water before drinking it.”
Since the morning of 17 October, UNRWA has conducted intensive training sessions in the Fawwar refugee camp to raise awareness about the best hygiene practices to protect against the spread of contracting the Shigella bacteria. The visits included the schools and kindergartens, the youth center, the women’s center, and other community-based organizations. Water samples were collected for chlorine testing by the UNRWA environmental health team, the MoH and Hebron municipality. Furthermore, UNRWA has agreed with the Palestinian MoH and the Hebron governorate to launch a house-to-house chlorination campaign starting on 19 October.
UNRWA calls on the refugees in Fawwar refugee camp to collaborate with the different teams on the ground.
UNRWA is confronted with an increased demand for services resulting from a growth in the number of registered Palestine refugees, the extent of their vulnerability and their deepening poverty. UNRWA is funded almost entirely by voluntary contributions and financial support has been outpaced by the growth in needs. As a result, the UNRWA Programme Budget, which supports the delivery of core essential services, operates with a large shortfall. UNRWA encourages all Member States to work collectively to exert all possible efforts to fully fund the Agency’s Programme Budget. UNRWA emergency programmes and key projects, also operating with large shortfalls, are funded through separate funding portals.
UNRWA is a United Nations agency established by the General Assembly in 1949 and mandated to provide assistance and protection to some 5 million registered Palestine refugees. Its mission is to help Palestine refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, West Bank and the Gaza Strip achieve their full human development potential, pending a just and lasting solution to their plight. UNRWA services encompass education, health care, relief and social services, camp infrastructure and improvement, protection and microfinance.
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