NAIROBI (AlertNet) – Starving Somali refugees are becoming sick due to shortages of water, shelter and latrines in overcrowded camps in Ethiopia, Medecins sans Frontieres (MSF) said on Wednesday.
The number of Somali refugees crossing into Ethiopia has surged to 300 per day, the medical charity said. There is no room for them in the four Dollo Ado camps, which are full with a population of 130,000 refugees.
"This place is making us ill,” one of 6,000 refugees temporarily being hosted in a transit camp told MSF.
They are waiting to be moved into a fifth camp, which is under construction.
“We have been here for 14 days, and here it is safe, but we have no place to sleep. The tents are overcrowded. Children and women are weaker than men, so they become ill here.”
The increase in the number of refugees fleeing hunger and conflict indicates that people in Somalia remain highly vulnerable, MSF said in a statement.
"I didn’t want to leave Somalia, but the hunger and the fighting made life too difficult,” a 39-year-old mother, who travelled alone for seven days with her four children, told MSF.
Her husband and mother stayed behind because they did not have enough money to travel.
“My son is very sick, he can’t eat and every day he looks more exhausted.”
MSF expects thousands more refugees to cross the border over the next weeks.
“There are not enough latrines, nor enough shelter or drinking water. More capacity is needed here on the ground, and very quickly,” Wojciech Asztabski, MSF’s project coordinator for Dollo Ado, said in the statement.
MSF called for construction of the fifth camp to be speeded up.
(Editing by Rebekah Curtis)