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Cholera outbreak adds to death and strife in conflict-hit Cabo Delgado

The death toll from a cholera outbreak in Macomia district, Cabo Delgado province, hit at least 28 last week, according to sources in the coastal village of Pangane

The death toll from a cholera outbreak in Macomia district, Cabo Delgado province, hit at least 28 last week, according to local sources in the village of Pangane which is receiving people from surrounding areas fleeing the conflict in the province.

A source in Mucojo, headquarters of the administrative post that includes Pangane, said that on Thursday, 23 July, four people were buried due to acute diarrhoea. He estimated the number of cases there at over 70.

"Many of the victims came from the Quilhanhune Islands, where some of the people from Quiterajo and the villages in the interior of the Pangane locality took refuge,” the source said. “Others came from the islands in the district of Mocímboa da Praia."

The situation looks set to get worse, as there is no health unit currently operating in Macomia district. Health NGO Medecins Sans Frontieres quit the district after a major attack on the town of Macomia, the district headquarters, at the end of May.

Another source from Pangane, who arrived in the provincial capital of Pemba on Friday, said the natives of Panguene had tried to expel refugees arriving from the islands, for fear that they were bringing cholera with them.

Further north, in the town of Mocímboa da Praia, dozens of deaths have been reported from cholera, with the neighborhoods Nabubussi, Malinde, Nkomangano and Nhonge Island hardest hit. Here too, incomers have been accused of bringing the disease with them.

One young man was lynched in Malinde, accused of having brought diarrhoea, while two others, immigrants from Nampula province, were attacked by refugees from Mocímboa da Praia staying in Nkomangano, for the same reason. The incidents happened in the week starting on the 13 July.

Unreliable numbers

The Ministry of Health estimates there have been 1,288 cases of diarrhoea registered in the districts of Ibo, Macomia, Mocímboa da Praia, Pemba and Metuge — though reliable numbers are hard to obtain.

"A total of 1,288 cases were registered by 7 a.m. on 23 July 2020, with a total of 18 deaths," according to the provincial health directorate’s weekly cholera bulletin — but the report does not appear to be tracking statistics from some areas because of the conflict.

In Mocímboa da Praia district, for instance, no cases have been officially recorded for the last four weeks — and no cases have been officially recorded in Macomia for nine weeks.

This article was produced by Zitamar and Mediafax under the Cabo Ligado project, in collaboration with ACLED and with support from Crisis Group. The contents of the article are the sole responsibility of Zitamar News.