UNHCR Background Guide

UNHCR Background Guide - United Nations High Commissioner...

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United Nations High Commissioner of Refugees International Relations Simulation 2010 Chair: Michael Tong Vice-Chair: Alia Jan
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IRSim 2010 United Nations High Commissioner of Refugees 2 Topic 1: Communicable diseases in refugee camps Introduction Since World War I, the number of civilian victims affected by wars has risen dramatically. In the case of World War I, this number was 10% of all casualties, during WWII, 40% and in modern, the number can be as high as 90% i . As a result, the number of refugees has risen since 1974 from 2 million refugees worldwide to approximately 42 million at the end of 2008, according to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees ii . Many problems, health-related, financial, ethical and social, are encountered in refugee camps and in dealing with large populations of displaced persons. High-density populations, malnutrition, lack of health care and an unsanitary environment are only a few of the factors that affect the spread and persistence of disease in refugee camps. iii In consequence, communicable diseases are a major cause of morbidity and mortality in these encampments where people are grouped in close quarters, generally with limited resources. “When you‟ve got mas ses of people moving quickly, health and sanitation are very important. It‟s important that we get those facilities in very quickly”, says Ariane Rummery, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Pakistan, commenting on the millions of people displaced due to the war-torn North West Frontier Province. iv The World Health Organization defines complex emergencies as “situations of war or civil strife affecting large civilian populations with food shortages and population displacement, resulting in excess mortality and morbidity”. v Communicable diseases such as malaria and tuberculosis are potent killers in these f situations and the rate of such diseases in refugee camps are at times 60% over the baseline limit 3 . History and Current State of the Topic Malaria One of the many challenges in controlling disease in camps is the lack of early detection, giving time for the disease to advance into less controllable stages and improper implementation of protocols. For example, during a one month period, 60, 000 cases of cholera were estimated to have hit the Rwandan refugees in Goma, Congo in 1994. One of every six individuals died as a result. Two years later, the disease struck the camp again, but this time epidemic preparedness reduced the mortality rate to 1% vi . This example is a powerful demonstration of the impact that knowledge about a disease and the adequate use of equipment and methods can have on a population, refugee or otherwise. Studies have already correlated population shifts with increases in cases of malaria
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This note was uploaded on 10/17/2010 for the course ARTS ATOC 230 taught by Professor Henson during the Spring '10 term at McGill.

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UNHCR Background Guide - United Nations High Commissioner...

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