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Social Issues
Somali Refugees Face New Challenges in Camps
November 3, 2011
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The international medical aid organization Doctors Without Borders - better known as MSF, or Medecins Sans Frontières - announced yesterday that the health situation facing Somali refugees in Ethiopia is rapidly deteriorating, and is likely to reach crisis levels unless the capacity to deliver aid is increased.

In a statement released yesterday, Wojciech Asztabski, an MSF project coordinator, said that the camps across the Somalian border in Ethiopia, which house some 130,000 people attempting to escape the conflict - and famine-fuelled humanitarian crisis in their home country - are overfull and unable to cope with the strain. The transit camp alone, which handles new arrivals, is bursting with over 6,000 people, and more are expected in coming weeks. "There are not enough latrines, nor enough shelter or drinking water. More capacity is needed here on the ground, and very quickly too," said Asztabski.

"At the moment, the capacity to receive more people and provide the necessary food, nutritional care, medical care, drinking water, sanitation and more is grossly insufficient."

MSF has asked the Ethiopian government to allow the organization's international staff to provide support to enable the importation of badly needed materials and supplies, especially considering that the situation in Somalia is likely to continue.

As for helping get those experienced people to this and other crisis areas, MSF Canada has declared today, Nov. 3, to be Aeroplan Matching Day, in which Air Canada's loyalty program will match the first 1.5 million Aeroplan miles donated to MSF Canada by the end of the day.

MSF uses the donated miles to fly its staff and volunteers to MSF emergency medical interventions around the world, and since 2006 has received some 50 million Aeroplan mile donations, which has paid for hundreds of flights. If you're an Aeroplan member and want to make a donation - or better yet double your donation - you can do so here.

MSF Canada isn't the only organization for whom air miles are an effective form of donation. Aeroplan also lets members direct miles toward other worthy charities, such as The Stephen Lewis Foundation, War Child Canada, Athletes for Africa and others.


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