Cholera Outbreaks Hits Lebanese Refugee Camps

Cholera Outbreaks Hits Lebanese Refugee Camps
Picture by Ahmed Akacha via Pexels

Annachiara Canetta

Middle East and Human Rights Researcher

Global Human Rights Defence 

The first cholera case since 1993 was recorded in Lebanon on October 6th, in the governorate of Akkar. [1] As of October 31st, 1703 cases have been confirmed in the country. [2] The outbreak has supposedly started in Syria, and it is thought to be originating from communities drinking water of the Euphrates or food irrigated by it: the river is experiencing unprecedented low water levels [3], while 11 years of war has destroyed water and sanitary infrastructure. [4]

The cholera outbreak has reached refugee camps in Lebanon, where around 1 million of Syrians still reside. The majority of the cases were recorded in Akkar and Bekaa, which hosts thousands of refugees from Syria. [5] If cholera was to spread on a larger scale in refugee camps across the country, the results could be devastating as contamination is rapid in this type of environment, and Lebanese healthcare is on the verge of collapse.

Lebanese Health Minister Firass Abiad partly blamed the three-year economic crisis for the recent cholera outbreak as government expenditure towards water infrastructure has decreased, augmenting the risk for contamination [6]. Cholera is sometimes defined as the “disease of chaos” [7] as its spread is often a sign of  broader societal failure.


Sources and further reading:

[1] Save the Children International. (2022, October 27). Deadly cholera outbreak tightens its grip on the Middle East, as cases nearly double in Lebanon. Save the Children International.

 [2] Cholera Surveillance in Lebanon- 31/10/2022. (n.d.). Retrieved November 1, 2022, from

[3] Save the Children International. (2022, September 20). Children’s health and education at risk as severe cholera outbreak spreads in Syria. 

 [4] UN warns of cholera outbreak in Syria. (2022, September 14). Middle East Monitor.

[5] Pernot, P. (2022, October 26). Lebanon: Cholera cases soar with refugee camp in north at centre of outbreak. Middle East Eye.

[6] Gebeily, M. (2022, October 21). Cholera outbreak hits Syrian refugees sheltering in camps in Lebanon. Reuters.

 [7] MacDiarmid, C. (2022, October 28). ‘Nightmare’ scenario as cholera hits a country in chaos. The Telegraph.