MOGADISHU, May 4 (Xinhua) -- An outbreak of cholera/ acute watery diarrhoea (AWD) in Somalia has killed 618 people since January, the UN humanitarian agency said on Thursday.
The UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said in its latest bulletin that the AWD/cholera outbreak is affecting 13 out of 18 Somali regions.
The OCHA attributed the outbreak to widespread water shortages, food insecurity and displacement that have stretched sanitation facilities beyond their capacity.
"Nearly 32,000 AWD/cholera cases and 618 related deaths have been reported since the start of 2017," said the UN agency.
The vulnerable children and adults, already struggling to cope with malnutrition and food insecurity caused in large part by the failure of 2016's two rainy seasons, were struck down by the deadly disease after drinking contaminated water, it said.
The OCHA said most cases were reported from Banadir, Togdheer, Lower Shabelle, Hiraan, Sool, Mudug and Lower Juba regions, noting that reporting and verification in places such as Middle Juba have been hampered by difficult access.
"The current mass population displacement as a result of droughts is worsening the situation. The onset of the rainy season risks exacerbating the situation further in the hotspots and along the riverine areas," it said.
Meanwhile, the report said an outbreak of suspected measles has added to the burden of disease in Somalia.
"Almost 5,700 suspected cases of the disease have been reported since the start of 2017, more than the total number of cases in 2016," the UN said.
Measles, a viral respiratory infection that spreads through air and contact with infected mucus and saliva, thrives in congested, unsanitary displacement settlements that have multiplied across the country as people flee drought.