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Children in Ivory Coast health crisis

Thousands of children forced out of their homes to escape fighting in the Ivory Coast now face a health ‘catastrophe,’ a charity warns.

Five months after a disputed election triggered fighting in the west African country, families forced to flee the violence are still living and sleeping outdoors. Without clean drinking water, and shelter from heavy rains they are at a high risk of catching potentially fatal diseases, lung infections and diseases spread by water and mosquitos, Save the Children warns.

Mum of three, Celestine is now living in a crowded camp in Duekoué. “We have no house,” she said. “The rain comes and we’re sleeping outside,” she told the Independent. “If it rains, it wakes you up and you can’t sleep. People have stomach infections, sicknesses...We can’t live like this.” More than four thousand people are living outdoors without tents or mosquito nets in a camp at a church in Guiglo in the west where heavy rain is forecast to arrive this week. “Conditions in these camps are already atrocious, and will only get worse as the rainy season sets in,” said Save the Children’s Annie Bodmer-Roy.

“Without clean water, proper shelter and access to healthcare, children in these camps could find themselves caught in a breeding ground for disease, and the potential consequences are catastrophic.” The wet weather could now trigger a surge of sickness among these people, because what little water they can get their hands on is untreated. Many, including, children have already died from diarrhoea.

Britain’s Department for International Development working with the charity have sent a plane loaded with emergency supplies including plastic sheets, mosquito nets, buckets and water purification tablets. "I visited refugee camps on Liberia’s border with Cote d’Ivoire just two weeks ago and met people who had walked many, many miles with their families to escape the fear and suffering and were being cared for through British aid, said Britain’s Minister for International Development, Stephen O’Brien. “

But for every one who has fled the country, thousands more are still living without food, water and security in Cote D’Ivoire. "The arrival of the plane, with aid funded by the British Government, will contribute to making a real difference to the lives of 55,000 men, women and children – people who are in urgent and dire need of our help. This humanitarian crisis will undoubtedly get worse before it gets better as the imminent rainy season approaches. British aid, delivered by Save the Children, will help stop the spread of diseases like malaria and cholera in its tracks, saving countless lives across the country." 

Hayley attribution