Twenty-six Congolese refugees at a fast-growing camp in western Uganda died from acute diarrhoea in just three days, the UN said Thursday.
Tens of thousands of people have fled an upsurge of fighting in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo this year, many of them arriving weak and unwell at Ugandan camps that are struggling to accommodate them.
“The number of deaths caused by acute diarrhoea is 26 over the period from 15 to 18 February,” said Duniya Aslam Khan, spokeswoman in Uganda for the UN refugee agency (UNHCR).
“All reported cases and all victims are newly arrived Congolese refugees,” she added.
The deaths were recorded at the Kyangwali camp close to Lake Albert where there are also fears of a cholera outbreak.
More than 27,000 Congolese have made the lake crossing this year, most of them arriving during a single week earlier this month.
Thousands more are gathered on the Congolese side, the UNHCR said last week. They hope to escape fresh fighting between rival communities in Ituri province.
Further south, over 15,000 more have fled overland into Uganda from North Kivu where the Congolese army is battling a militia group.
In total, violence in eastern Congo has uprooted 200,000 in the last two months, according to aid workers.