September 16, 2012

MSF is providing aid to some 12,000 Sudanese refugees in Ethiopia's Bambasi refugee camp.

Nearly 40,000 Sudanese refugees fleeing conflict in Sudan's Blue Nile region have sought refuge in neighboring Ethiopia. About 15,000 of them lived in the camp of Ad-Damazin, about 20 kilometers [about 12.5 miles] from the border. At the end of April 2012, the Ethiopian authorities decided to close the camp, which was considered too close to Sudan, and move the refugees to a new site located near Bambasi in the Benishangul-Gumuz region, more than one hundred kilometers [about 62 miles] from the Sudanese border.

Following violent protests by the refugees who refused to leave Ad-Damazin, the Ethiopian authorities suspended humanitarian assistance—most importantly food distribution and health care—for more than two months. When 12,000 refugees were eventually transferred to Bambasi in July, nearly a quarter of the children under 5 years of age suffered from acute malnutrition.

After vaccinating the children against measles, Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) opened a treatment center for malnutrition in Bambasi camp and is now distributing nutritional supplements to the most vulnerable until the situation stabilizes.

All images Ethiopia 2012 © Yann Libessart 

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Ethiopia 2012 © Yann Libessart

Bambasi refugee camp was opened in June 2012. It has a total capacity of 20,000 people. #


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Ethiopia 2012 © Yann Libessart

When families first arrive, they live in UNHCR tents and receive a few items to cook and stay warm. #


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Ethiopia 2012 © Yann Libessart

Every family is given construction material to build traditional huts to replace the tents. #


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Ethiopia 2012 © Yann Libessart

Women collect rainwater from a stream. #


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Ethiopia 2012 © Yann Libessart

Boreholes equipped with hand pumps are a safer source of drinking water. #


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Ethiopia 2012 © Yann Libessart

MSF immunized 3,500 children against measles and opened a therapeutic feeding program in Bambasi that treated more than 400 severely malnourished children over the summer. #


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Ethiopia 2012 © Yann Libessart

Most severe cases of malnutrition are frequently associated with other pathologies such as skin diseases. #


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Ethiopia 2012 © Yann Libessart

Malnourished children often became unable to swallow and nasogastric intubation is required to feed them with enriched therapeutic milk.  #


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Ethiopia 2012 © Yann Libessart

Once stabilized, malnourished children receive a weekly supply of ready-to-use therapeutic peanut-based food. #


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Ethiopia 2012 © Yann Libessart

MSF also distributes weekly rations of supplementary food to the most vulnerable. The rations are prepared with Corn Soya Blend mixed with sugar and oil. #


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Ethiopia 2012 © Yann Libessart

Around 3,000 households, usually with pregnant or nursing women and children under five, have been registered to receive supplementary food. #


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Ethiopia 2012 © Yann Libessart

A Sudanese woman and her three-year-old son await their weekly supply of supplementary food inside a shelter built by MSF. #


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Ethiopia 2012 © Yann Libessart

Refugees moved to Ethiopia with their cattle and are selling meat to the Ethiopian villagers. A small market emerged within Bambasi camp. #


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Ethiopia 2012 © Yann Libessart

Malnutrition rates are now decreasing and the number of new arrivals is shrinking. Refugees await peace in Sudan to return home. #