On top of dealing with drones, a Taliban insurgency, and a government crackdown on that insurgency, the more than 2 million recently displaced persons in Pakistan will be forced to face a new and equally daunting challenge coming in three weeks, the rainy season and the malaria-bearing mosquitoes that soon follow.
This threat is particularly dire because the 18,000-plus families arriving every day, a migration that the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) has called one the worst since the genocide in Rwanda, have been displaced from regions, the Swat, Lower Dir, and Buner districts of the Northwest Frontier Province, where malaria is not endemic. Refugees are ill-prepared to deal with the disease both because the refugee population has no pre-existing immunity to malaria and because the flow of internally displaced people (IDPs) is quickly overwhelming available resources, including access to life-saving bednets.
To meet the challenge, UNHCR and the UN Foundation have issued an emergency appeal for 150,000 anti-malarial bed nets to protect the most vulnerable. A bed net costs only $10 to produce, deliver, and train a family on its use, and it dramatically reduces the incidence of malaria. You can help the UNHCR protect these populations by making an emergency, tax-deductible donation today to send insecticide-treated bed nets to families in need.
UNHCR and the UN Foundation are no strangers to facing down malaria in refugee camps. This year, we’ve already partnered to send more than 275,000 bed nets to protect 27 vulnerable refugee populations in Kenya, Uganda, Sudan, and Tanzania through the UN Foundation’s Nothing But Nets campaign, an effort to prevent malaria in Africa.
The UN Foundation and UNHCR have the experience, the skill, and the established framework necessary to respond to a crisis of this magnitude with the urgency it demands. But these nets can not be sent without the support of individuals like you. Together, we can provide life-saving bed nets to families who’ve lost everything, and ensure that they can at least sleep in peace, protected from malaria.
Daniel J. Carucci is Vice President for Global Health at the UN Foundation