Photo: Malian refugees fleeing conflict in Mali arrive at the border in Fassala, Mauritania. Mauritania 2012 © Lynsey Addario/VII
Desperate Conditions in Camps Causing Disease Among Malian Refugees
Conflict in northern Mali is still forcing large numbers of people to flee their homeland and seek sanctuary elsewhere in the countries of the Sahel region, but the conditions in the camps where they are living are themselves leading to disease and suffering.
According to UNHCR, approximately 150,000 Malian refugees are living in camps in Burkina Faso (Ferrerio, Dibissi, Ngatourou-niénié, and Gandafabou camps), Mauritania (Mbera camp), and Niger (Abala, Mangaize, and Ayorou camps). Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has been working in these eight camps since March 2012, providing primary and maternal health care and treating malnutrition. MSF is also vaccinating children between six months and fifteen years old for measles. Nearly 12,000 consultations and 5,000 vaccinations have been carried out since the beginning of the year.
Nearly 67,000 refugees—mainly women and children—have arrived in the border town of Fassala, Mauritania, since January 2012. “At the border crossing at Fassala, Mauritania, people are arriving thirsty and showing signs of fatigue,” explains Karl Nawezi, MSF project manager in Mauritania. After being registered by the authorities, refugees wait in a transit camp before being transferred to Mbera, a small, isolated village in the Mauritanian desert, just 30 kilometers [about 19 miles] from the Mali border.