According to Iraq's High Commission for Human Rights, an estimated 110,000 people in Basra province have contracted waterborne diseases (including diarrhea and cholera) from August through October. The Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) anticipates that this figure could increase by 277,000 in the coming months. According to local sources, the current outbreaks have been caused by the contamination of the Basra's municipal water supply with refuse and waste following weeks of protests and strikes.
Cholera, an infectious disease caused by the Vibrio cholerae bacterium, is typically spread via infected water supplies and induces acute diarrhea leading to severe dehydration, frequently resulting in death. The risk of death is greatest among people with compromised immune systems, such as malnourished children or those living with HIV. However, even among healthy adults, cholera can be fatal within a matter of hours.
On September 7 protesters set fire to several government buildings, including the Iranian Consulate, the provincial government building, and the Asa'ib Ahl al-Haq group headquarters. While the scale of protests has decreased in recent weeks, demonstrations continue to be held. According to Iraq's Independent High Commission for Human Rights, protests in Basra have left at least a dozen people dead and nearly 100 others wounded since September 1.
To reduce the risk of contracting waterborne diseases, wash hands regularly, drink only bottled or purified water, and avoid eating raw or undercooked foods. Individuals who believe they may have contracted cholera or other waterborne diseases should seek immediate medical attention.
On a separate note, the security environment in Iraq remains complex. Although travel is possible in some areas with proper security protocols in place, other areas should be considered strictly off-limits. Professional security advice and support should be sought prior to all travel.
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