UNICEF to use horses to reach children in anti-measles campaign in Chad

5 March 2004

The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and Chad's Public Health Ministry will use horses to reach some of the country's most remote areas during a campaign to inoculate nearly 90,000 children - half of them Sudanese refugees - against measles.

he United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and Chad's Public Health Ministry will use horses to reach some of the country's most remote areas during a campaign to inoculate nearly 90,000 children - half of them Sudanese refugees - against measles.

Launching the campaign yesterday in N'Djamena, the Chadian capital, UNICEF said 300 trained staff will travel over 12 days to more than 1,000 villages and other locations in the east of the country where refugees have set up makeshift homes.

They said 30 horses, 16 all-terrain vehicles and several motorcycles will be used by staff to help them reach their target of 86,400 children aged between six months and 15 years.

UNICEF's office in Chad warned of the high risk of epidemics, noting that measles is the deadliest vaccine-preventable disease in the world. Conditions are rough, nutrition is poor and the population generally live in close quarters.

As well as the inoculations, staff will distribute Vitamin A to children to reinforce their immune systems and protect them from blindness.

Meanwhile the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has returned to Geneva to brief donor governments after a three-day mission to personally inspect efforts to help the estimated 110,000 Sudanese refugees living in eastern Chad.

Ruud Lubbers will tell the donor governments that $20.8 million is needed this year to pay for the UNHCR's operations in Chad, which include humanitarian relief and the relocation of refugees to safer camps away from the dangerous border between Sudan and Chad.

"Many of the refugees I met in eastern Chad were traumatized by their flight from the Darfur region of Sudan and were not at all ready to consider going home," Mr. Lubbers said.

For the past year thousands of Sudanese have poured across the border into Chad to escape fighting in Darfur between the Sudanese Government, the rebel Sudan Liberation Army (SLA) and local militia.

Frequent militia raids on their makeshift homes along the border have prompted UNHCR to begin transferring refugees to inland camps at Farchana, Touloum and Kounoungo. So far 8,000 refugees have made the move.

 

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