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Cholera outbreak in Mogadishu: Oxfam airlifts 47 tonnes of supplies

August 18, 2011

Oxfam is airlifting 47 tonnes of vital water supply and hygiene materials to Somalia’s capital Mogadishu, as the aid community scales up its effort to bring relief to the drought-stricken country. The Thursday morning flight from Nairobi is part of Oxfam’s efforts to control the outbreak of cholera and reduce public health risks in highly-populated camps. There are three flights in total.

"Cholera is deadly and spreads very quickly but we can stop it in its tracks if we respond quickly," said Robert Fox, executive director of Oxfam Canada, who was at the scene and is available for interviews. "It's encouraging to see these life-saving supplies on their way to Mogadishu."

"Soap, chlorine and the materials to provide clean water and build latrines make up most of this shipment. These vital supplies will allow our Somali partners on the ground to significantly scale up their response.”

The airlift will include water tanks and pipes to set up water points across the capital city as well as tons of soap bars and 12,000 jerry cans so people can carry and store water. There is sufficient aid to reach over 120,000 people.

Oxfam partner organization, Hijra which operates in Mogadishu and the outskirts of the capital, has seen an increase in cholera cases. Hijra staff have reported that cases affecting children and women are on the rise. The organization has started a cholera prevention and treatment program that is reaching 20,000 people in three camps for people who have fled to Mogadishu. The work includes distributing oral rehydration salts and soap and a public information campaign advising on ways to reduce the risk of contracting the disease.

“Clean water and soap are vital to help prevent a public health crisis, as people weakened by hunger are particularly at risk of disease. With the recent cholera outbreak in the Mogadishu, this assistance will save lives. Despite the many challenges of operating in Somalia, Oxfam has years of experience working with partners there to reach people in need.” said Adan Kabelo, Associate Country Director for Oxfam in Somalia.

Oxfam partners operate across the country, and are running the largest public health program in Somalia, providing clean water to 250,000 displaced Somalis in camps outside Mogadishu. Oxfam’s partner agencies also operate one of the largest therapeutic feeding programs for children and mothers, feeding 3,000 severely malnourished children every week.

Across the country, 3.7 million people—nearly half of the Somali population—are now in crisis, two-thirds of whom reside in the south. Oxfam aims to scale-up its programs to reach 1.4 million people within the next few months.

Oxfam has been working in Somalia for over 20 years. The agency, which operates in partnership with local aid organizations, has so far helped over 850,000 in South Somalia, including Mogadishu.

Robert Fox, executive director of Oxfam Canada, is available for interviews from Nairobi. He has visited the Dolo Ado camp in Ethiopia and will visit the Dadaab camp in northern Kenya Friday and Saturday.

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For more information, contact:

Juliet O'Neill
Oxfam Canada
Media Relations


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