Ethiopia: Measles killing children who fled drought

ADDIS ABABA, 10 February (IRIN) - A measles epidemic is killing children in a camp where families sought sanctuary from the drought, an international aid organisation said on Monday.
UK-based Christian Aid said that the crisis in the makeshift camp in Haraghe, in the eastern Oromiya region, is getting worse as more people arrive in search of food and promises of resettlement on fertile land.

"The situation in the camp is dire and people - especially children - are dying every day," said the organisation in an appeal for help.

According to the aid agency, some 37,000 people fled to the camp - a former military base of the previous Derg regime.

"They have been driven there out of desperation," it said. "Their land, already largely infertile due to over-farming and the pressures of over-population, has been hit by three years of drought.

"They have also been lured by government promises of resettlement on new, fertile land here," Christian Aid added.

According to the aid agency the promises of resettlement cannot be met because of the large numbers that have poured into the region.

The Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus is providing emergency food to more than 4,500 children and pregnant and nursing mothers. A health centre has also been set up but the demands are high.

"Food in the camp is in short supply, the government is responsible for supplying food but deliveries have been erratic," Christian Aid said. "Disease is also present - a measles epidemic in the camp has resulted in the deaths of many children."


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