Over 100 dead in hepatitis E outbreak in South Sudan

Updated 15 February 2013
0

Over 100 dead in hepatitis E outbreak in South Sudan

GENEVA: More than 100 people have died in the past six months in a worsening outbreak of hepatitis E among refugees in South Sudan, the UN’s refugee agency warned yesterday.
“Hepatitis E is endemic in the region, but among refugees has contaminated 6,017 people and led to 111 deaths since July,” UN High Commissioner for Refugees spokesman Adrian Edwards told reporters in Geneva.
Last November, the UNHCR had tallied just 1,050 cases and 26 deaths from the virus, which is spread through the consumption of contaminated food and water and damages the liver, among some 180,000 Sudanese refugees living in the Upper Nile and Unity states of the fledgling country.
Yesterday, Edwards said the largest number of cases and suspected cases had emerged in the Yusuf Batil camp in Upper Nile State, which is home to more than 37,000 refugees and has seen 3,937 cases, or 70 percent of the total, and 77 deaths.
Most of the remaining cases were found in three other Upper Nile camps, while the situation in Unity State further to the west was “less dramatic,” Edwards said.
Edwards pointed out that most of the refugees in camps heavily impacted by the disease were from Blue Nile State in Sudan, “where there are few established toilet facilities and uncontaminated water is not readily
available.”
“UNHCR believes the growth in the population due to the refugee influx from Blue Nile could be one of the factors in the rapid spread of the disease,” he said, stressing that the risk of contracting hepatitis E could be “dramatically reduced” by washing hands with soap after using the toilet, drinking clean water and avoiding eating uncooked fruits and vegetables.
Emergency measures were being taken to curb the infection rate, including building latrines, and increasing soap distribution and access to clean water, Edwards said.


Rohingya refugees rescued after drifting at sea for 9 days

Updated 21 April 2018
0

Rohingya refugees rescued after drifting at sea for 9 days

BIREUEN, Indonesia: A Rohingya Muslim man among the group of 76 rescued in Indonesian waters in a wooden boat says they were at sea for nine days after leaving Myanmar, where the minority group faces intense persecution, and were hoping to reach Malaysia.
The eight children, 25 women and 43 men were brought ashore on Friday afternoon at Bireuen in Aceh province on the island of Sumatra, the third known attempt by members of the ethnic minority to escape Myanmar by sea this month. Several required medical attention for dehydration and exhaustion, local authorities said.
Fariq Muhammad said he paid the equivalent of about $150 for a place on the boat that left from Myanmar’s Rakhine state, where a violent military crackdown on the minority group has sparked an exodus of some 700,000 refugees over land into neighboring Bangladesh since August.
The refugee vessel was intercepted by a Thai navy frigate and later escorted by a Thai patrol vessel until sighting land, said Fariq. The group believed the Thais understood they wanted to reach Malaysia and were dismayed when they realized they were in Indonesia, said Fariq, who gave the identification numbers of the Thai vessels.
“We were forced to leave because we could not stay, could not work so our lives became difficult in Myanmar. Our identity card was not given so we were forced to go,” he told The Associated Press on Saturday.
Local officials and a charitable group are providing shelter and food for the refugees. The International Organization for Migration said it has sent a team from its Medan office in Sumatra, including Rohingya interpreters, to help local officials with humanitarian assistance.
Rohingya, treated as undesirables in predominantly Buddhist Myanmar and denied citizenship, used to flee by sea by the thousands each year until security in Myanmar was tightened after a surge of refugees in 2015 caused regional alarm.
In April, there has been an apparent increase in Rohingya attempts to leave the country by sea. An Indonesian fishing boat rescued a group of five Rohingya in weak condition off westernmost Aceh province on April 6, after a 20-day voyage in which five other people died.
Just days before, Malaysian authorities intercepted a vessel carrying 56 people believed to be Rohingya refugees and brought the vessel and its passengers to shore.
Mohammad Saleem, part of the group that landed Friday in Aceh, said they left from Sittwe in Rakhine state, the location of displacement camps for Rohingya set up following attacks in 2012 by Buddhist mobs.
“We’re not allowed to do anything. We don’t have a livelihood,” the 25-year-old said. “We can only live in the camps with not enough food to eat there. We have no rights there.”