Dadaab: the risk of epidemics, for recently arrived conflicts’ refugees, is high.

An office full of medical supplies in Mugadishu, Somalia An office full of medical supplies in Mugadishu, Somalia Abdinor Salad via Unsplash

25 October

Hundreds of refugees continue to arrive at Kenya's Dadaab camp, where living conditions for vulnerable people are worsening.

MSF called on the UN Refugee Agency and Kenyan authorities to initiate large-scale vaccination efforts in order to avert large-scale epidemics and save lives of those already affected by conflicts. People from Somalia are escaping a crippling drought, violence and continuing conflict. Many of them are coming from Southern Somalia, where measles and cholera outbreaks have occurred recently. The risk of disease outbreaks in these overcrowded camps is high, warns Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF).

Cases of measles and cholera have been recorded by MSF in Dadaab Refugee Complex, one of the three camps for Somali refugees in Kenya. Low vaccination coverage means that infectious diseases can spread rapidly, putting people living in and around the camps, particularly children, at risk. Even a few isolated cases of these diseases can cause a full-blown outbreak in overcrowded camp settings.

Measles and cholera vaccinations are urgently needed to prevent large-scale outbreaks in camps and surrounding communities, says UNICEF's regional director for Africa, Guadalupe Guadarrama. The number of people arriving in Dagahaley camp alone has doubled from August to September, reaching over 800 people.

Kenyans must show a sense of urgency to prevent an emergency unfolding on top of what is already a long-running crisis, says Guadarrama. Refugees already living in Dagahaley have been generously hosting many of the newly arrived but relying solely on hospitality is not a sustainable solution. Humanitarian assistance will also need to be scaled up to address the needs of new arrivals, and the long-time refugees and host communities, as they have also been suffering under the drought.

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by Viola Rubeca

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