Today, UNHCR hosted the United Nations Foundation for an intimate look into the Mae La Refugee camp along the Thai-Burmese border. There, 40,000 individuals have been cared for and resided for 24 years.
Refugee camps are unique in that agencies like UNHCR must provide food, shelter, education, protection and medical care. There is no short term fix, as most children in this camp know no other life.
We toured homes, schools and two clinics. The overworked, amazing doctors showed us the diseases they deal with from tuberculosis to malaria.
The UN Foundation’s Nothing But Nets has committed 10,000 nets for these families. A difference between this area and parts of Africa includes the need to also distribute mats with nets. The people sleep in elevated bamboo huts with slits in the floor. Nets are only effective when sealed and therefore need to be enclosed with an additional mat.
As 2009 nears, Nothing But Nets will be working closer with UNHCR to help prevent malaria within the most vulnerable populations – refugees and Internally Displaced Persons.
I had the opportunity to talk with a young Burmese woman and her children. She and the people understand the importance of nets and the need to protect their children from malaria.
I am confident that nets will be used effectively in the Mae La camp. So please, continue to send nets and save lives!