4.1 Case Study: Do’s and don’ts-Rwandan genocide, 1994

In 1994, 500,000 to 800,000 Rwandan refugees fled into North Kivu, Democratic Republic of Congo. Due to a scarcity of water within the first month, almost 50,000 refugees died. About 85% of the deaths were due to diarrhoeal diseases.

Suggestions to prevent morbidity and mortality include:

  • Effective cholera preparedness and control should keep case fatality rates below 1%.
  • Surveillance should be in place either through rapid population surveys or a health information system.
  • Some expertise in rehydration is important among health workers, along with the prevention and management of diarrhoeal diseases.

Source: Goma Epidemiology Group 1995. Public health impact of Rwandan refugee crisis: What happened in Goma, Zaire, in July 1994? The Lancet 345: 339-343.