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S. Sudanese refugees receive cholera vaccine in Ethiopia

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By Tesfa-Alem Tekle

September 10, 2015 (ADDIS ABABA) – Hundreds of South Sudanese refugees in Ethiopia are currently being vaccinated against cholera to prevent the outbreak of the disease.

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Ethiopia has witnessed a huge influx of South Sudanese refugees since conflict erupted in the young nation in December 2013 (AFP)

The United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) said the immunization campaign is being provided in all South Sudanese refugee camps in Gambela, a region located within the Ethiopia-South Sudan border.

The campaign, officials said, will prevent cholera from spreading across South Sudan’s border with neighbouring Ethiopia where thousands of South Sudanese refugees are currently being sheltered.

The UN refugee agency in collaboration with its health partners, like Médecins Sans Frontières reportedly conducted mass immunisation campaign for the first time to over 180,000 South Sudanese refugee in June when a cholera epidemic was declared in Gambela region.

As cholera continues to affect conflict-hit South Sudan, awareness campaigns on acute watery diarrhea and cholera are reportedly continuing to be implemented in all refugee camps in the region.

Officials say the vaccine against cholera, which is more than 60% effective, is taken orally and is said to be easier to administer.

An effective coordination environment is also established in response to the Level 3 emergency with refugees arriving from South Sudan. Also developed is a regional refugee response plan with the participation of all partners.

In addition to the vaccination campaign, water and sanitation partners in Gambella and Assosa towns reportedly scaled up sanitation and hygiene awareness activities in 10 camps to minimise risk exposures to opportunistic ailments as the rainy season approaches.

UNHCR has also signed an agreement with one of its local partners such as AHADA, to erect some 600 solar street lights to light the various South Sudanese refugee camps in the Gambella region.

As a party to both the 1951 Convention on Refugees, and its 1967 Protocol and the 1969 OAU Convention, the Ethiopian government maintains open borders for refugees seeking protection in the country.

The Horn of African nation currently hosts nearly 730,000 refugees from over 18 countries, with the majority originating from South Sudan, Somalia, Eritrea and Sudan.

(ST)

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