21 May 2013 The United Nations refugee agency said today it is working to help contain a cholera epidemic in Niger that has already claimed seven lives, including those of two Malian refugees, in a little over a week.
The two refugees are a 45-year-old man who died on 13 May, and a 3-year-old boy who passed away last Sunday, after arriving at the health centre at a late stage of the disease, which is typically contracted by consuming contaminated water.
Both were refugees in the Mangaize camp which hosts 15,000 in the Tillaberi region, according to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). To date, 248 cases have been registered in the Tillaberi region, including with 31 cases among refugees in Mangaize and Tabareybarey camps.
“We are responding to the outbreak in the camps by implementing emergency health and sanitation measures, such as increasing the supply of clean water,” UNHCR spokesperson Melissa Fleming told reporters in Geneva.
“Together with our partners, we are also providing oral rehydration solutions, soap and aquatabs. However, more drugs are urgently needed in the centres to treat potential new cases,” she said.
UNHCR is also working to spread public health messages in the camps through sensitization campaigns. The same measures are being put in place for the local community in the surrounding areas.
“We are currently reinforcing our team with the arrival yesterday (Monday) of a regional health co-ordinator who will work with authorities and partners on additional measures to contain the epidemic,” said Ms. Fleming.
“The implementation of a vaccination campaign for the population at risk, both inside and outside the refugee camps, is a measure under consideration.”
Last year, a cholera epidemic affected 5,287 people and killed 110 throughout Niger. The region of Tillaberi was the most affected with 4,792 cases and 87 deaths. No refugee died at that time.
UNHCR noted that cholera outbreaks are recurrent in Niger, one of the poorest countries in the world. Niger is currently hosting some 50,000 Malian refugees who fled the fighting in their homeland, including 31,000 spread across 3 camps in the Tillaberi region.
May 20, 2013 (ADDIS ABABA) – The United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) has relocated over 1,480 Sudanese refugees from the border to Sherkole camp in Ethiopia pushing the capacity of the camp beyond the initial limit of 9,000 people.
In a statement the UNHCR in Ethiopia said the refugees who had originally been displaced by the conflict in Sudan’s eastern Blue Nile state were relocated during March and April.
The Sudanese refugees were being sheltered among host communities along the Ethiopia-Sudan border since their arrival in 2011 hoping to return when stability is restored.
But with the security situation in Blue Nile state still uncertain the UN refugee agency said it is planning to relocate more Sudanese refugee from the borders to camps further inside Ethiopia.
Ethiopia’s Agency for Refugees and Returnee Affairs (ARRA) – which is an implementing partner of the UNHCR – said that some 2,000 more Sudanese are ready to be relocated soon.
Currently Ethiopia hosts nearly 90,000 Sudanese refugees who make up 22.5% of the total over 397,000 refugees currently Ethiopia shelters.
The UNHCR believes that continuing conflict and access to humanitarian aid in Blue Nile and Kordofan states would possibly drive more Sudanese to seek refuge in Ethiopia.
With the Sudanese government and SPLM-N as yet unable to reach a peace accord, the UNHCR said Assosa town in Ethiopia’s Benishangul-Gumuz region will remain in emergency preparedness mode to receive new refugees.
The AU-mediated peace talks between the Sudanese government and the SPLM-N held last month in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, ended with no breakthrough.
The two sides failed to reach agreement on the central issues of the conflict as well as providing humanitarian aid to conflict-affected regions.
Further more the UNHCR and its partners are planning to expand Kutaworke transit centre within Sherkole camp with the aim of using it as a temporary shelter in the event of a large scale of influx.
“In the meantime, UNHCR is following up with ARRA and the regional authorities on the approval of the site for a 4th camp” it said.
The UNHCR meanwhile said Sudanese refugees continue to arrive in Ethiopia from camps in Upper Nile where the outbreak of Hepatitis-E is confirmed.
To tackle a potential spread of the disease to the camps in Ethiopia a multi-agency task force has been established to develop and implement a Hepatitis-E preparedness plan.
According to UNHCR officials there is a legitimate possibility that the disease could be prevalent within Blue Nile state.
“UNHCR and ARRA have been meeting with the Regional Health Bureau, WHO and UNICEF to strengthen coordination between the host community and Refugee operations regarding epidemic preparedness and response”, the UN body’s statement said.
Article source: http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article46638
17 May 2013 With tens of thousands of Darfur refugees in eastern Chad, the United Nations refugee agency today said it is “in a race against time” to deliver aid before heavy rains cut off access to the group escaping violence linked to tribal conflicts.
The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) has prepositioned enough aid in the area to cover the needs of 3,000 families and additional supplies are underway to cover the needs of another 4,000 from a regional stockpile in Douala, Cameroon, spokesperson Dan McNorton told journalists in Geneva.
Almost 30,000 people – mainly women and children – recently fled communal violence in North and West Darfur, Sudan, for Tissi, a remote and volatile area on the border between Darfur and the Central African Republic (CAR).
An average of 300 people continue to cross the border into Tissi every day, and more are on the way “but armed groups are preventing them from crossing,” the spokesperson said quoting comments from recent refugees.
“They say that they fled because people were killed during the violence and that many houses were torched by armed men,” Mr. McNorton said, adding that they urgently need shelter, food, water and medical assistance.
Roads to Tissi are impassable during the May to November rainy season, Mr. McNorton said, and the first downpours have already started.
“Due to the rains, we are in a race against time. Road transport between Doula and Tissi takes 20 days. To speed up the delivery of aid UNHCR plans to hire a helicopter,” Mr. McNorton said.
He noted that UNHCR relocated about 1,500 refugees from Tissi to Goz Amir, a camp about 250 kilometres north, and provided them with shelter, food and household items. Additional transfers were halted due to heavy rains.
The agency plan additional relocations once the rainy season is over and once safe water sources are located on sites identified by the Government for camps.
“We are working with our partners on rehabilitating some existing water pumps while we drill boreholes,” Mr. McNorton said, as an alternative to river water which can put refugees at risk for waterborne diseases.
Darfurian refugees began arriving in Tissi in early April due to tribal conflicts between Misseriya and Salamat tribes around the Um Dhukun area of West Darfur. In addition to the Darfur refugees, the violence also forced almost 20,000 Chadians to cross into Tissi, as well as 458 refugees from Central African Republic (CAR) who had been in Darfur for years.