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Sunday, November 6, 2011
AFRICA: SOMALIA: REFUGEES FLEE FOOD CRISIS
CISA REPORT: DOLLO ADO, November 4, 2011 (CISA) -Unless the capacity to deliver aid is rapidly increased, there will be significant problems in meeting the needs of Somalis fleeing to Ethiopia, the international medical humanitarian organisation Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has said.
Malnutrition and mortality rates have been brought below crisis level in the refugee camps in southern Ethiopia. “At the moment, the capacity to receive more people and provide the necessary food, nutritional care, medical care, drinking water, sanitation and more is grossly insufficient,” said Wojciech Asztabski, MSF Project Coordinator for the Dollo Ado intervention.
The camps currently hosts around 130,000 refugees from Somalia, the majority fleeing the food crisis and conflict. In recent weeks the number of refugees crossing the border into Ethiopia has increased to approximately 300 per day.
“I didn’t want to leave Somalia, but the hunger and the fighting made life too difficult,” said a new arrival, a 39-year-old mother. “My husband and my mother are still in Somalia, we did not have enough money to travel, so I travelled alone with the four children. We travelled by donkey cart for seven days and nights. Now my son is very sick, he can’t eat and every day he looks more exhausted.”
MSF, in collaboration with authorities and other organisations, has assisted in the refugee camps since 2009. Since last May, MSF has dramatically scaled up its programs to improve the situation and bring mortality rates under emergency thresholds, but the organisaton warns that the emergency is far from over.
“We should be expecting thousands more to come across the border over the next weeks,” added Mr Asztabski. “The reception centre and the transit camp, where people stay until they are settled in one of the refugee camps, are rapidly filling up.”
The transit camp currently hosts over 6000 people. “There are not enough latrines, nor enough shelter or drinking water. More capacity is needed here on the ground, and very quickly too,” added Mr Asztabski.
The existing refugee camps where people are referred to after the transit centre are currently full, and the reception centre and transit camp are not equipped to receive people for prolonged stays. MSF warns that insufficient levels of shelter, water and sanitation will further weaken an already vulnerable population.
MSF is ready to provide life-saving assistance for a prolonged period, and is calling for the Ethiopian authorities to continue facilitating the necessary imports of medicines and materials, while allowing experienced international staff to provide the necessary support.
The drought affecting the Horn of Africa has had a dramatic impact on the people of Somalia, who are already suffering from 20 years of conflict, a desperate lack of development and the most basic services. MSF has been working uninterrupted in Somalia since 1991 and teams assist people inside Somalia as well as Somali refugees in Ethiopia and Kenya.
MSF is currently treating more than 22,000 vulnerable children in its nutrition programmes. Despite significant challenges, MSF teams have to date vaccinated more than 126,000 people against measles.