Cholera Outbreak in Syria Poses 'Serious Threat', UN Warns

An outbreak of cholera in Syria could present a “serious threat” to the whole Middle East region, the United Nations’ humanitarian coordinator for the country, Imran Riza, said in a statement on Tuesday, September 13.

The Syrian Ministry of Health declared the outbreak on Saturday, September 10, after it confirmed 15 cases, including one patient death, through laboratory testing, Riza said.

On Tuesday, the health ministry said 53 cases had been confirmed and seven people were confirmed to have died from the disease. The majority of cases were in the provinces of Aleppo, Hasaka, and Deir el-Zour, the ministry said.

According to the UN, more than 930 cases of “severe acute watery diarrhea” were reported in the two weeks up leading up to September 10 and at least eight people died as a result.

In Deir el-Zour, where 10 cases had been confirmed by Tuesday, authorities said they had distributed chlorine to all water stations in the province to increase sterilization. In al-Busayrah, where this footage was taken, officials said they had doubled the amount of chlorine added to drinking water before it was pumped into homes.

Riza said “swift and urgent action” was needed to combat the disease.

“Based on a rapid assessment conducted by health authorities and partners, the source of infection is believed to be linked to people drinking unsafe water from the Euphrates River and using contaminated water to irrigate crops, resulting in food contamination,” Riza said. “Cholera remains a global threat to public health and an indicator of inequity,” he added. Credit: Al-Busayrah Municipality via Storyful

Video transcript