(MENAFN Editorial) DAR ES SALAAM Tanzania May 19 2015/African Press Organization (APO)/ -- A severe humanitarian crisis is developing in Tanzania as thousands of refugees from Burundi seek asylum due to escalating political tensions. The situation is especially worrisome in Kagunga village in Tanzania where the original population of 11 382 has increased to over 90 000 since the crisis began in April 2015.
Mass population displacements have peaked in the last few days with 500 to 2000 arrivals per day overwhelming the current health system infrastructure. The overall situation is accompanied with limited camping space poor hygiene practices inadequate sanitation facilities and inadequate safe water for drinking.
The crisis worsened on 13 May 2015 with the diagnosis of 15 cases of acute diarrhoeal disease that were reportedly negative for cholera. However on 16 May 2015 two samples from the Nyarugusu camp tested positive for cholera and the number of acute diarrhoea diseases cases have rapidly climbed to over 1000 cases. Furthermore 13 samples have on 17 May 2015 tested positive for cholera.
Identified vulnerable groups that are at risk include pregnant women children elderly and special groups needing special attentions including people living with HIV/AIDS abandon children the disabled and people with other chronic illnesses.
From 11 to 17 May 2015 a joint team of experts from the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare (MOHSW) conducted an initial rapid assessment of the situation. The team of experts assessed the situation and recommended emergency measures to ensure timely response in the Kigoma region.
The village of Kagunga which is the main entry point of refugees does not permit easy relocation of refugees to the Nyarugusu refugee camp in the Kigoma region due to absence of means of water transportation (the only two available boats can only convey 1000 refugees per day). The Nyarugusu refugee camp has also reached the threshold of maximum number of persons and the asylum seekers are being housed in local schools awaiting temporary tents. A temporary holding area has also been identified at the Lake Tanganyika Stadium in Kigoma town which needs a lot of inputs to make it habitable.
The Regional Health Management Team (RHMT) in collaboration with partners have established health posts at entry point and receiving areas of Kagunga Lake Tanganyika and Nyarugusu where asylum seekers are screened and provided basic essential health services. However the health posts are challenged by having few health care workers limited availability of essential medicines and supplies and limited water and sanitation facilities.
There is a need to further strengthen coordination mechanisms to scale-up the provision of health care services and basic shelter food and protection services to the high risk populations. Tanzania's MOHSW has requested support in terms of human as well as financial resources to handle this emerging humanitarian crisis.
The initial comprehensive health assessment is being supported by the WHO in collaboration with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) International Rescue Committee (IRC) Red Cross Tanzania Water and Environmental Sanitation (TWESA) CARITAS Plan International and World Food Programme (WFP).
The UN Country Team and the leadership of the Resident Coordinator are working collaboratively in mounting the response effort across all critical sectors.
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