Cholera risk ticking bomb for Rohingya refugees

(AhlulBayt News Agency) - The threat of cholera is like a "ticking bomb" for Myanmar's persecuted Rohingya refugees who have flooded into Bangladesh, the head of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) says.

In a recent interview, Elhadj As Sy said unhygienic conditions could see the disease spread at refugee camps into which more than 600,000 Muslims have crammed in Bangladesh's Cox's Bazar district.

"We have every reason to fear that we can get into a situation that can lead to cholera outbreaks. We are definitely sitting on a ticking bomb," he said.

Sy, who spent three days in Cox's Bazar last week, went on to say that the conditions there were "difficult to describe" and "very heartbreaking."

One of the biggest concerns is the poor sanitation and lack of hygiene facilities that has sparked growing fears over the emergence of cholera in overpopulated camps.

The IFRC has treated numerous patients for acute diarrhea at a field hospital near the camps in recent weeks. The hospital has also treated thousands of people for a range of other ailments, including injuries suffered in Myanmar along the treacherous route to Bangladesh.

At the same time, the United Nations began a massive vaccination campaign in a bid to avoid a cholera epidemic but Sy warned unhygienic conditions could see the disease spread.

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