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Standing still won't stop measles

Guest post: From South Sudan to sporting events like the Sochi Olympics, measles is a disease that doesn’t respect boundaries. But it can be prevented with a vaccine, and the international community needs to do more to ensure that everyone gets it, says UN Foundation President and CEO Kathy Calvin.
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UN Foundation President and CEO Kathy Calvin meets a mother with a sick child during a February 2014 visit to Kakuma 1 Hospital in the Kakuma refugee camp, Kenya, where many South Sudanese have fled after weeks of turmoil in their home country. There have been 82 cases of measles infection among South Sudanese refugees in Kakuma. (Alex Kwameru/UN Foundation/Courtesy)

KAKUMA, Kenya – Last week, I traveled to the Kakuma refugee camp in northwest Kenya, where many South Sudanese have fled after weeks of turmoil in their home country. The camp offers refuge to more than 130,000 people – mostly women and children who had to leave nearly everything behind. During my time at Kakuma, I was humbled by the important work that is being done by United Nations humanitarian workers and their partners to provide food, shelter and safety for the refugees. 

While visiting Kakuma 1 Hospital, I saw many children suffering from malaria and malnutrition. But I was most struck when the head community health worker there told me about a one-month-old baby girl who was admitted with a severe case of measles, brought by refugees arriving from South Sudan. The baby was so ill that the health worker feared she would not make it.

Many refugees around the world flee their homes to escape insecurity and violence, but the sad reality is that they also face the deadly threat of infectious diseases like measles. This threat often emerges in conflict zones as routine immunization breaks down and humanitarian aid is restricted. 


Violence in South Sudan overwhelms an already fragile health system

Despite a ceasefire, NGO workers say security concerns have not eased and impede humanitarian aid to 900,000 displaced South Sudanese.
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A patient waits to be treated by Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) staff at a temporary clinic in a church of Malakal on February 5, 2014. Recent fighting in the country has seen waves of brutal revenge attacks, as fighters and ethnic militia use the violence to loot and settle old scores, with the United Nations and rights workers reporting that horrific atrocities have been committed by both sides. Many fear the conflict has slid out of the control of political leaders, with ethnic violence and revenge attacks between the Dinka people of Kiir and the Nuer of Machar, the country's two largest groups. (CARL DE SOUZA/AFP/Getty Images)

The United Nations is calling for $1.27 billion to support humanitarian efforts in South Sudan, where increasing violence paired with an already weak health system has created an incubator for disease.

Nearly two months after fighting erupted between supporters of President Salva Kiir and former Vice President Riek Machar, more than 3 million South Sudanese are in acute need of food, the UN reported Tuesday. An estimated 900,000 people have fled their homes in the country, which declared its independence from Sudan in July of 2011.

The UN is sheltering some 85,000 in crowded displacement camps on former peacekeeping bases, and about 123,000 have fled to neighboring countries. Most, though, are living in spontaneous settlements in the bush, where, without food, clean water, sanitation or shelter, aid workers say they are particularly vulnerable to communicable diseases like malaria, measles and diarrhea. 


South Sudan violence forces 10,000 to flee into neighboring Sudan

An estimated 10,000 people have fled north to Sudan from South Sudan where government troops and rebels have battled for the past month, the UN's refugee agency said on Sunday. "Ten thousand, this is something we are confident with, that these are confirmed people who have crossed the border, who have been fleeing the conflict," Nicolas Brass, external relations officer with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), told AFP.

South Sudan humanitarian crisis escalates as thousands flee fighting

Tens of thousands of South Sudanese have fled their homes, Doctors Without Borders (MSF) said on Wednesday, estimating 75,000 have arrived in Awerial in the past two weeks alone. Heavy fighting in the town of Bor forced thousands to flee by boat to nearby Awerial in neighboring Lakes State — a town normally home to 10,000 people.

South Sudan government committed to an 'immediate' ceasefire

A statement issued following a meeting of East-African leaders in Nairobi said Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) agreed to consider taking further action if hostilities did not come to an end within four days.

3 Indian peacekeepers killed in South Sudan as rebels seize control of provincial capital

New York-based Human Rights Watch noted Thursday that government soldiers were targeting civilians belonging to Machar’s Nuer ethnic group in the clashes in Juba, while rebel soldiers in Bor targeted civilians who are Dinka, like South Sudan President Salva Kiir.

South Sudan: What happens after a president 'nukes his entire cabinet'?

NAIROBI — The South Sudanese capital Juba was jittery but calm Thursday, just two days after President Salva Kiir sacked his deputy and dismissed the entire government.

Should your next cup of Nespresso come from South Sudan? George Clooney thinks so.

NAIROBI — Nespresso does not expect to begin selling South Sudan coffee until 2015. But Clooney described the initiative as “a real game-changing move.”

5 health workers killed by South Sudan soldiers

Member of Parliament David Mayo told BBC News that the hospital in the village of Lorema was attacked by soldiers and that fighting continued into Friday. One doctor, one patient and four nurses were killed.

South Sudan: 163 killed in clashes

The report said that most of those killed were rebels who clashed with government soldiers after they were accused of supporting Sudan.
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