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Every day, in many parts of the world groups of people, flee their homeland mainly due to because they are at risk of serious human rights violations there, their own government can not or will not protect them, they are forced to seek international protection. They are called refugees and these people’s journeys can be full of danger and fear. They are not always welcomed in new countries and some are detained by the authorities as soon as they arrive and are often victims of torture, rape and racial and sexual abuse, at worst cases are also killed. After the long and rigorous journeys, refugees at times are extremely tired and many fall sick being deprived of the basic necessities for so long. Where there are refugees, various refugee camps have been established but the question remains whether they are successful in providing the needs for the deprived.
Ensuring proper health and sanitation mechanisms in Refugee camps has always been an issue and one of the vital reason for ensuring the well being of the refugees. The right of everyone to enjoy the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health is what WHO works for and was constituted in 1948. Ratified international human rights standards and conventions exist to protect the rights of migrants and refugees, including their right to health. Nevertheless, many refugees and migrants often lack access to health services and financial protection for health. Kenya houses one of worlds biggest refugee camp, ‘Dadaab Refugee Camp’ which is monitored and controlled by NGOs, UNHCR, WHO. Since it is one of the biggest refugee camps it means it is crowded and a pact with a lot of refugees and the fact Health and Sanitation remain a major challenge. There are approximately 1 to 2 toilets for 30-40 people which raise the question of hygiene and open defecation mainly by small children and the elderly make it simple for diseases to transmit and proper sanitation is hampered. The cramped camps also mean an outbreak of viral diseases(water born diseases, viruses) and lack of clean and adequate water supply. Waste management is not proper for the vast population and refugees health is further threatened by the flies, mosquitoes, rodents find breeding places.
The health and sanitation remains a major challenge for the Kenyan government and questioned by International communities frequently. However, shockingly in 2017 the Kenyan government said it will appeal a court ruling its plan to close the Dadaab refugee camp, the largest in the world, stating the safety of the Kenyan citizens are of utmost priority and that the refugee camp is being used as a “launchpad for various terrorist attacks by Al-Shabaab."In fact Deputy president William Ruto affirmed decision to close Kenya’s camps and says western countries should take their share of refugees from East Africa But as expected International Pressure and the high court ruling came in response to a petition not to shut Dadaab by two Kenyan human rights organizations, Kenya National Commission onHuman Rights, and Kituo Cha Sheria. Thus till date, the camp has still not been closed due to mixed decisions. Besides the Dadaab camp there are other refugee camps in Kenya hosting refugees from war-affected African nations and although reports claim the refugees are living moderate life, the refugees tell stories of hunger and poor health and that they are inhabited with other poisonous species: spiders, snakes etc.
Nevertheless, Refugees are human beings as well and no matter what they should not be deprived of basic human rights. Health and sanitation are one of the basic elements of human life and for countries having refugee camps, the respective governments should ensure that in the refugee camps. In Kenya the government together with UNHCR, WHO and other governmental organizations are working hard day by day to maintain proper standards in camps and statistically, there has been an improvement in the health sector in the camps. However, this achievement is still nothing to be proud of, keeping in mind what these people go through in their daily lives. Healthcare and proper sanitation should be made of top priority and organizations should work together and address the situation properly.
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