Cholera has killed at least 18 people in Juba, capital of South Sudan, in the last three weeks and the government will step up measures to counter the spread of the disease, the health minister said on Tuesday.
The minister, Riek Gai Kok, told a news conference that one of the casualties had died at a United Nations facility housing civilians seeking refuge from a civil war raging in the world’s youngest nation state.
Juba has seen more than 171 suspected cholera cases so far in this outbreak, the health ministry said. Last year, 167 people died in South Sudan in a cholera outbreak, the health ministry and the World Health Organisation (WHO) have said.
The WHO representative in South Sudan, Tarande Manzila, said cholera treatment centres had been set up at Juba’s teaching hospital and at a clinic at the U.N. site housing civilians.
The WHO and other organisations are conducting oral cholera vaccinations in vulnerable areas of Juba and the oil hub of Bentiu in Unity state, targeting nearly 107,000 people, to prevent a large-scale outbreak, Manzila said.
South Sudan’s civil war pits forces loyal to President Salva Kiir against rebels allied with former vice president Riek Machar. More than 10,000 people have been killed in the fighting since it first erupted in December 2013.
The conflict has also created a humanitarian crisis. As of June 18, the U.N. mission in South Sudan was housing nearly 137,000 civilians in its protected sites across the country.