* Any views expressed in this article are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters Foundation.
Hospitals are stretched in Cameroon as thousands of refugees from the Central African Republic continue to cross the border, reports children’s charity Plan International.
An estimated 13 refugee children are dying in Cameroon every day, according to figures from UN’s Office for the Co-Ordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN OCHA). Around 40 per cent of children are suffering from acute malnutrition.
More than 103,000 refugees have now crossed into Cameroon from the Central African Republic since the start of this year, figures from UNHCR suggest.
“More than half the refugees in the region are under the age of 18, including unaccompanied children and teenage mothers,” says Barro Famari, Plan’s Country Director in Cameroon.
“The children are very vulnerable with many suffering from severe malnutrition and a significant number are developing serious complications.
“The capacities of hospitals are stretched as there are an overwhelming number of sick children with very limited health personnel and drugs,” he adds.
Plan has built a number of boreholes in one of the sites, Mbile, with plans to construct more in both refugee sites and the host communities, as well as latrines and showers.
Plan is also constructing areas where children can play and learn safely.
Fourteen-year-old Fadila’s school in Bangui had to shut down because of the violence. She and her family are now living in a refugee camp in Cameroon.
“I feel safe and happy being here but I miss school. I would have loved to have brought some of my books along but I couldn’t go back to my house to get them,” says Fadila*.
“I have no friends here. I would like to have some books so I can read and catch up on what I am missing at school,” she adds.
Focusing initially on immediate hygiene and sanitation needs, Plan will be expanding its response to include education and child protection, building 87 temporary learning spaces in the camps.
More than 2,000 families have already received hygiene kits from Plan, which contain soap, sanitary towels, toothbrushes, toothpaste and a bucket.
It has also distributed malaria prevention and treatment drugs to four health centres, as well as medicine to treat other infectious diseases.
For more information on Plan’s work or to make a donation call 0800 526 848 or visit www.plan-uk.org