A mass food poisoning at a camp for displaced Iraqi civilians outside Mosul has left at least two dead and hundreds requiring urgent treatment, officials said today. "There are 752 cases of food poisoning and two deaths, a woman and a child" following a meal last night, health ministry spokesman Seif al-Badr told AFP. He said around 100 of those affected required serious treatment after the iftar meal, which breaks the dawn-to-dusk fast during the holy Muslim month of Ramadan. Badr said the exact source of the poisoning would be revealed after a more thorough investigation.
Other health officials from Nineveh province, in northern Iraq, confirmed the figures. The outbreak occurred at Hasansham, one of the many camps dotting the region around Mosul, where Iraqi forces are battling the Islamic State group. More than 800,000 people have been forced to flee their homes since a massive operation against the jihadists in one of their last strongholds in Iraq was launched in October 2016. Many of them live in overcrowded camps, where soaring summer temperatures are compounding the difficulties faced by the government and the United Nations in maintaining acceptable living conditions. In a statement, the UN's refugee agency said at least one child had died as a result of the food poisoning and that 200 people were hospitalised. "Extra clean water is now being provided at the camp and additional health agencies have been brought in to help in the response," the agency said. "We are waiting for the police investigations to understand clearly the chain of events and to draw lessons from this tragic incident which will allow agencies to reinforce public health protocols to prevent such situations in the future," it said.
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