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Cholera strikes IDPs in Tché

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NAIROBI, 22 Apr 2005 (IRIN) - Aid workers are unable to reach camps for thousands of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), where cholera has broken out, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has said.

"The situation is likely to worsen in the Tché camp, where the lives of about 25,000 people is at risk," OCHA said in a statement issued on Tuesday.

It said that since the outbreak of the disease on 26 March, some 1,420 people had been affected by the epidemic, which has killed 29 people.

Aid workers are unable to reach Tché, 62 km northeast of Bunia - the main town in the district of Ituri - where various militias are operating.

OCHA said UN peacekeepers and troops of the newly integrated national Congolese army have forcibly disarmed thousands of Ituri militiamen, but in and around Tché, the militias are "still wreaking havoc on innocent civilians".

"NGOs are strongly advised to avoid the area until further notice," Modibo Traoré, the OCHA humanitarian affairs officer in Bunia, said. However, he added: "The IDPs will soon run out of food, water and medical supplies".

OCHA said Tché had recorded 165 cases of cholera with four deaths before the area became inaccessible.

"The disease in still active in other camps like Tchomia and Kafé where on average about 20 people are affected by the disease every day," OCHA said.

The UN Mission in the DRC, known as MONUC, was attempting to create safe passage for aid workers, OCHA said.


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