Thursday, July 23, 2009

Displaced in Burma lacking medical aid

(DVB)–Internally displaced persons hiding in jungles in eastern Burma are suffering from outbreaks of malaria and dengue fever with almost no medicine or medical facilities, according a Karen aid group.

Around 9000 people in Bago division’s Taung-ngu district are internally displaced (IDPs) and are having difficulty accessing food, water and medicine, said the Committee for Internally Displaced Karen People (CIDKP).

The prevalence of mosquito-borne diseases soars during the rainy season, and is a particular threat to people living in bush areas.

“Their traditional method of making smoke to keep mosquitoes away is dangerous because the Burmese army might see [the smoke] and find them,” said Saw Eh Wah from the CIDKP.

At least two or three people in each household are infected with either malaria or dengue fever, many of whom are pregnant women and children under age of 10, he said.

No deaths have yet been reported and IDPs are said to be using traditional medicines to combat the diseases.

“There are no hospitals or clinics; sometimes they get one or two medical workers from the Karen National Union and the Free Burma Rangers [medical group],” he said, adding that the IDPs are using “herbs and tree roots” as medicine.

Burma is also home to over 500,000 internally displaced persons, the majority of which are in eastern Karen state.

Many of these have been forced out of their homes by fighting between the Burmese army and the Karen National Union.

A report released by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees in June said that around 723,571 people are considered to be stateless in Burma, the world’s third highest population of stateless persons.

Reporting by Naw Noreen

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