At least two people have died with hundreds more requiring urgent treatment at a camp for internally displaced people outside Mosul on Tuesday following a major bout of food poisoning, Iraqi health authorities said.
“There are 752 cases of food poisoning and two deaths– a woman and child,” health ministry spokesperson Seif al-Badr told AFP news agency.
Iraqi authorities have launched a formal investigation into the incident, according to Iraqi lawmaker Raad al-Dahlaki, who heads parliament’s Immigration and Displacement Committee.
Al-Dahlaki said the compromised meal served for iftar, which marks the breaking of fast during Islam’s holy month of Ramadan, included meat, rice, yogurt, a bean sauce and water.
A Qatari charity organization had donated the iftar dinner for 2,000 residents at the camp, reported Kurdish media group Rudaw. It is unclear whether the incident was deliberate.
The UN refugee agency (UNHCR) said it was concerned by the event, and called on authorities to investigate how the incident occurred.
“Extra clean water is now being provided at the camp and additional health agencies have been brought in to help in the response,” the UNHCR 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.”
More than 800,000 people have fled their homes since October 2016, when Iraqi-led forces launched a massive operation to liberate Mosul from the self-styled “Islamic State” militant group.
UN officials have warned that the conflict could lead to “one of the largest man-made disasters” in modern history.