UNHCR battles measles outbreak among refugees in Uganda

The U.N. Refugee Agency started a mass measles immunization campaign on Friday in northern Uganda to prevent the disease from spreading among South Sudanese refugees.

Adrian Edwards, a UNHCR spokesperson, announced the campaign on Friday, which is targeting the more than 59,000 South Sudanese refugees who arrived in the country since clashes began in South Sudan in mid-December. The Ugandan Ministry of Health confirmed the measles outbreak after five cases and three suspected cases were registered among refugees in the Arua area.

"The immunization campaign will cover all refugee and Ugandan children below 15 years in age in the Arua and Adjumani districts," Edwards said. "We are working on this project with UNICEF, the Ugandan Ministry of Health, Medecins Sans Frontieres-France, and Medical Teams International."

Edwards said Uganda is still receiving 250 refugees a day at the Adjumani reception area. He said the UNHCR welcomes the signing of the South Sudan ceasefire agreement and hopes it can be implemented to avoid further displacement.

Since mid-December, more than 100,000 refugees from South Sudan fled to neighboring countries including Sudan, Kenya, Ethiopia and Uganda. There are approximately 490,000 individuals who are internally displaced within the country. South Sudan was already host to 230,000 refugees itself, most of whom are from Sudan.