1. Home
  2. Africa
  3. East Africa
  4. Djibouti

At least one dead in toxic leak

[Djibouti] Contaminated port at Djbouti
Contaminated port at Djbouti (FAO)

A toxic leak in the port of Djibouti has still not been completely contained and health fears are growing as the rainy season approaches this month. At least one person has already died.

The latest report on the situation by the UN's Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said that nearly three months after the spill was initially discovered on 9 January, the leak had still not been stemmed. It said efforts were focused on securing the leaking containers and cleaning up five contaminated sites at the port.

The leaking substance, a wood preservative known as chromated copper arsenate (CCA), is highly toxic, corrosive and possibly carcinogenic. There has been at least one death, although a direct link to chemical exposure still has to be established, the OCHA report said. According to latest figures from the World Health Organisation, up to 350 people claim to have been exposed to the chemical.

"The prolonged presence of CCA in groundwater and the possible impact on marine environment is of great concern," the report stressed. "Assessment of the situation has indicated that Djibouti does not have the technical expertise to manage the situation beyond what has already been undertaken."

The Djibouti authorities have stated that the leak is confined to the port itself and international experts earlier stressed that the spill did not constitute a widespread public health problem.

This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions

Share this article
Join the discussion

Help make quality journalism about crises possible

The New Humanitarian is an independent, non-profit newsroom founded in 1995. We deliver quality, reliable journalism about crises and big issues impacting the world today. Our reporting on humanitarian aid has uncovered sex scandals, scams, data breaches, corruption, and much more.


Our readers trust us to hold power in the multi-billion-dollar aid sector accountable and to amplify the voices of those impacted by crises. We’re on the ground, reporting from the front lines, to bring you the inside story. 


We keep our journalism free – no paywalls – thanks to the support of donors and readers like you who believe we need more independent journalism in the world. Your contribution means we can continue delivering award-winning journalism about crises.

Become a member of The New Humanitarian today

Become a member of The New Humanitarian

Support our journalism and become more involved in our community. Help us deliver informative, accessible, independent journalism that you can trust and provides accountability to the millions of people affected by crises worldwide.