When the Burundian and congolese women ran away from their homes to the refugee camps, they expected to find safety and protection. Instead, they simply escaped one type of violence in Burundi to face other forms of abuse in the refugee camps in Tanzania. This did not only make them exposed to sexually transmitted disease, it also opened a door into mental illness. Many young girls and women are so severely brutalized that they acquire traumatic fistulae, leaving them unable to hold their urine or feces.
Today, many refugee women in camps around the world experience similar treatment. When will such violence against women stop?
Conflict and humanitarian crisis in the Democratic Republic of Congo have caused an estimated 5.4 million deaths since 1998. Most perished from disease and malnutrition. Violence continues to rage with women and girls suffering increasingly brutal attacks. The vast majority were not killed in combat. Most refugees tragically died from malaria, diarrhea, pneumonia and malnutrition–easily preventable and treatable conditions when people have access to health care and nutritious food.
Cyclone Giri, which struck the northwestern coast of Myanmar destroyed houses, schools and health centers and an estimated 250,000 people are in need of urgent assistance. This led to lack of safe water, healthcare, food and shelter. This condition led to water and food contamination, making the residents susceptible to different kinds of diseases. Malaria also became endemic in the affected area. How can diseases be prevented or reduced in such a situation?
Afghanistan is facing an immense humanitarian crisis. Because of four years of drought, decades of war, the destruction of irrigation systems and the mining of large areas of agricultural land by the Soviet army, the country cannot feed itself. Millions of Afghans already rely on the United Nations World Food Program to survive. Things are only growing worse, as people try to flee the country before the US attacks the Taliban, and neighboring countries, normally sources of food, seal their borders. The UN is asking for $584 million in food aid, to stave off immediate famine for an estimated 7.5 million people, mostly women and children, over the next sixth months. (If that doesn’t sound like a lot to you, consider: that’s 40,000 people dying per day, or over 1600 people dying each hour, on average.) In addition to hunger and the ordinary, deadly diseases of poverty and displacement, there are now reports of hemorrhagic fevers breaking out in the refugee camps. http://www.cscs.umich.edu/~crshalizi/afghan-crisis.html
Refugees in different parts of the word experience so many things that inevitably affect not only their social and economic status but also affect them physically, emotionally and mentally. Political strife contributes a lot in the generation of endless streams of refugees and unnecessary suffering of the people, especially those who are disadvantaged like women, children, the elderly, and the sick. Refugee camps in some instances have not been a helpful source of peace. It is hard to witness horrible inhuman killings and extreme abuse without getting affected. A survivor in Darfur tells of his experience. Go to this link to read more.
Emergency water sanitation centers have been setup, but one wonders why massive efforts to keep the water supply clean, and educate the population with regards to handwashing, have not been taken early. Of course a major problem is that hundreds of thousands of displaced Haitians are still living in refugee camps. Public health officials suspect that the Artibonite River in Haiti, which thousands of Haitians use for drinking water, is contaminated with cholera and is the source of the current epidemic.
There are certain vaccines available for cholera which potentially could be used in an acute refugee crisis could help to ward off a cholera epidemic.
When looking at the bigger picture, the situation in Haiti still remains dire for the estimated 1.3 million people who live in the tent cities in Port-au-Prince. Women and children are experiencing high levels of violence, such as rape. Many experts have called for increased funding for reconstruction efforts in Haiti, but they have been slow in coming as major donor nations, such as the United States, are only sluggishly authorizing funding.
Much of the damage done by the Haitian earthquake was especially deadly as it toppled poorly constructed buildings. Any reasonable reconstruction effort in Haiti will involve the construction of durable homes which can withstand another earthquake—a real possibility given the fact that not all of the pressure on the fault involved in the 2010 Haiti earthquake has been relieved.
Little attention has been given to the health consequences of migration. These consequences not only impact the immigrants but they also affect the communities in which they move in. Immigrants have a range of health issues which can be debilitating to the health of migrants and their families. Also, problems associated with maternal and child health among migrants have been of concern for a long time but may have not been sufficiently addressed due to the fact that women, in some communities, are still being regarded as second-class citizens. The attitude toward women often seriously limit their access to , and use of, antenatal care and other services. The various health problems faced by immigrants can also contribute to immigrants’ difficulty in adapting to their new communities, find jobs and interact with other people. There is need for more consideration for the immigrants’ health, early identification of people at risk and counseling.