Child Malnutrition Levels Soar in Tanzanian Refugee Camp as Burundian Presidential Election Approaches
Kasulu, Tanzania (July 21, 2015) — Acute child malnutrition cases in Nyarugusu refugee camp on the border of Tanzania and Burundi are reaching critical levels, with the settlement’s specialist therapeutic unit for severely malnourished children now flooded with new cases.
In one day alone, more than 30 malnourished Burundian children were admitted and showing secondary complications including malaria, pneumonia, worms, anemia and diarrhea. At least four known deaths of malnourished infants have been recorded so far.
The number of children attending emergency feeding programs is also spiraling as more and more families flee the escalating political violence preceding the strongly contested Burundian Presidential elections, set to take placed on Tuesday, July 21st. An estimated 25,000 people have fled to the Tanzanian border camp in the last month alone, bringing the total number of Burundian refugees to around 78,000; a fifth of which are thought to be children under five.
“If the number of malnourished children arriving continues to climb, the current medical facilities in the camp will be unable to cope,” says Lisa Parrott Acting Country Director, Save the Children Tanzania.
“Refugee families arriving in Nyarugusu camp have been turning up in much worse shape than they were before, many having suffered extremely stressful journeys to reach here. More mobile clinics are desperately needed.”
Tensions are running high between new arrivals and the long-established refugee population from eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), most of whom arrived in 1996 following the Rwandan genocide and the subsequent regional instability.
Rivalries over food and basic supplies such as soap, cooking pots and blankets are intensifying, with many schools in the camp now being used to house Burundian refugees, feeding fears that when the new school terms begins there will be no room for classes.
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