“Since the Kobe refugee camp opened in June, an average of 10 children under the age of five have died every day,” according to Adrian Edwards, a spokesperson with the office of the UN’s High Commissioner for Refugees.
“While malnutrition is the leading cause of the high mortality, suspected measles is compounding the problem.
“The combination of disease and malnutrition is what has caused similar death rates in previous famine crises in the region,” Edwards said.
Some 25 000 people are currently registered at the Kobe camp, part of the 121 000-strong Dollo Ado refugee complex, Edwards explained, saying the complex had more than doubled since the beginning of the year.
Edwards said a mass vaccination campaign targeting children between the ages of six months and 15 years was completed at the Kobe camp on Monday.
“The majority of refugees arriving from Somalia are from rural areas, and the camps in Ethiopia may be the first time they have been in contact with formal health facilities,” he said.
Some 200 to 250 Somalis arrive at the refugee complex every day, Edwards added, fleeing violence and what the United Nations has described as the region’s worst drought in decades.