The death rate among new refugees from Angola has trebled since their arrival at Meheba camp 10 weeks ago, the Jesuit Refugee Services report this week. Refugees are suffering from lack of clean water, poor sanitary conditions and irregular food distribution. "Forty per cent of the population of new arrivals can be classed as vulnerable," said JRS Zambia director, Francis Leong. He said: "In the month of October alone, 38 people, mainly children aged under five, died due to diarrhoea. "Medicins Sans Frontieres-France report that the mortality rate for the region was 0.6 per 10,000. Now it is 1.7 and rising. "Among children, the rate is 2.4. A CMR of more than one is serious. If the water and sanitation situation is not stabilised soon, we can expect a further rise in the death rate. "With over 7,000 new arrivals in a new settlement zone, only four boreholes for water have been set up in the last two months. Out of these four, only one is working properly. Over 20 boreholes are needed for a population of this size. "There is a shortage of tools for distribution to families, which is hampering the construction of shelters and latrines. The rainy season has started, compounding the problem. "Irregular food distribution due to a lack of logistical resources is also contributing to the poor health conditions of the refugees. "The food is in the warehouses but it is not getting to the people on time or in sufficient quantities," said Mr Leong.
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