As the danger of epidemics rises in refugee camps, a vaccination campaign gets underway
by Melani Manel Perera
Every child under the age of 5 should be vaccinated in a three-day immunisation campaign. Human Rights Watch reports a disastrous health situation in overcrowded refugee camps that have no latrines or water. Infectious diseases are becoming commonplace.
Colombo (AsiaNews) – Sri Lanka’s Health Ministry and the UNICEF in Sri Lanka today launched a three-day immunisation campaign to vaccinate against measles and polio more than 40,000 internally displaced children living in refugee camps in the Wanni area.

Dr Athula Kahandaliyanage explained that this special vaccination programme will be carried out to contain the spread of measles after sporadic cases were reported among internally displaced people in the past few months.

Medical staff will carry out the vaccination in 30 health centres in Vavuniya with the help of about 1,200 volunteers.

Once the operation is completed in Wanni they will move to Jaffna and Trincomalee districts for the next phase.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) released a report on 28 July, saying that sanitary conditions in Tamil refugee camps have worsened.

“Many are overcrowded, some holding twice the number recommended by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees,” the report said.

Moreover, “[a]ccording to the UN, there is a shortage of latrines and access to water is inconsistent, causing hygiene problems. In June alone, health officials recorded more than 8,000 cases of diarrhoea, as well as hundreds of cases of hepatitis, dysentery, and chickenpox.”