By Laura Huamán
According to World Health Organization officials, health conditions on the Tunisian-Libyan border could result in disease epidemics. Around 90,000 people have fled from Libya to Tunisia since February 20 of this year after the start of political unrest.
Dr. Eric Laroche, Assistant Director General for Health Action in Crisis, mentioned that shelters are facing "enormous overcrowding and a lack of hygienic conditions,” and emphasized "the pressing need [..] to have fewer and fewer people who are concentrated there"(1). Many refugees have had to sleep on the ground and many are suffering from diarrhea, influenza, and respiratory illnesses.
Three million dollars would be needed to cover the immediate requirements of the WHO in southern Tunisia, Laroche explained. Furthermore, the U.N. World Food Program announced an emergency aid plan worth 38.7 million dollars (27.9 million Euros) to help 2.7 million people in Libya, Egypt and Tunisia. The European Commission decided to increase its emergency aid from three to ten million Euros.
A WHO team was due in eastern Libya to evaluate needs among the people in this part of the country . National health officials are taking emergency measures, including the establishment of an early warning system to detect potential epidemics and strengthen the communication network with the Health Department.