Today, I’m on my way to the Horn of Africa. Over the past few months, it seems all eyes have turned toward this region, where the worst drought in decades has led to widespread famine — forcing hundreds of thousands of families to leave their homes and move into refugee camps for basic necessities like food, water, and shelter.
Yet there is one more thing these families need: bed nets. The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) has asked Nothing But Nets to help send 150,000 life-saving nets to the refugees in the Horn of Africa as quickly as possible. Paul Spiegel, Chief of Public Health at UNHCR, told us: “Malaria is a leading cause of death among refugees. In addition to food and water, we need bed nets to keep these families safe.”
Refugee camps are crowded and typically located on swampy plots of land, creating an environment where malaria-carrying mosquitoes multiply quickly and easily spread the disease between people — but access to insecticide-treated bed nets can help curb the spread of malaria by up to 90 percent.
Early next week, I’ll be visiting the Dollo Ado refugee camps to learn more about the situation on the ground, to speak with our UN partners responding to this emergency, and, most importantly, to meet with the families in the camps. I look forward to sharing their stories with you through a series of blogs over the next week, and through photos on our Facebook page.
Protecting refugees has always been a priority for us. A few months ago, you helped us send more than 60,000 bed nets to families escaping the conflict in Cote d’Ivoire. On top of that, in 2009, Nothing But Nets partners and supporters helped UNHCR send enough nets to cover more than 1 million refugees in Africa — the number of refugees on the continent at the time. Unfortunately, due to factors like drought and violence, the number of refugees continue to grow — but we’re confident that Nothing But Nets supporters will come together to keep these families safe and healthy.