from MARIA MACHARIA in Nairobi, Kenya
NAIROBI, (CAJ News) – WORSENING humanitarian conditions in overcrowded refugee camps are exacerbating severe acute malnutrition in Kenya.
Children are the worst affected in the drought-prone East African country.
The Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF or Doctors Without Borders) said hospital admissions of children suffering from severe acute malnutrition have spiked in Dagahaley, one of three refugee camps in the Dadaab refugee complex, eastern Kenya.
In 2022, MSF teams treated a record 12,007 patients – an overwhelming majority of whom were children – in its paediatric ward and inpatient therapeutic feeding centre in Dagahaley.
MSF data also shows a gradually increasing trend in the global acute malnutrition rate among children in Dagahaley camp, which reached eight percent during mid-upper arm circumference screening in December 2022.
This marks a 45 per cent increase compared to the previous screening in July 2022.
Several complex factors are aggravating the humanitarian situation in Dagahaley, stretching the healthcare capacity in the camp.
An ongoing cholera outbreak, declared at the end of October 2022, has gripped the refugee camps, as well as communities in Garissa and Wajir counties.
A crippling sever, and prolonged conflict, continue to displace people in the Horn of Africa in search of food and water.
MSF lamented that an inadequate humanitarian response as a result of scarce funding is adding further pressure, deepening wide-scale gaps across sectors including water, sanitation and hygiene, nutrition, health and protection.
“Worryingly, forecasts paint a grim outlook for refugees this year,” said an MSF spokesperson.
The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs has predicted the forthcoming rainy season, from March to May, will fail.
This would mark the sixth consecutive failed rainy season.
MSF has called on donor countries to urgently release funds for humanitarian assistance.
Dadaab currently hosts over 233 000 registered refugees and more than 80 000 unregistered refugees.
In 2022, over 50 000 people arrived in Dadaab.
They are yet to be officially registered as refugees.
– CAJ News