HealthMap increasing disease surveillance for growing Libyan refugee crisis


Inspired by uprisings in neighboring Tunisia and Egypt, Libyans began protesting against Muammar Gaddafi on February 15th.  Gadaffi responded with violent military action, leading UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to express his outrage one week later.  The UN Security Council has called for a war crimes investigation.  Despite limited communications and access by journalists, reports of violent confrontations have emerged on a daily basis, and over 200,000 Libyans and foreign worker are leaving the country.  

The International Organization for Migration reports refugees are fleeing to Tunisia (at least 112,000 people of 40 different nationalities), Egypt (at least 98,000 from 24 countries), and Niger (2,000 to 3,000).  The large numbers and lack of resources available at the borders make for a “logistical nightmare.”  TheWorld Health Organization warns of the potential for disease outbreaks among refugees gathered along the Tunisia-Libya border.

In partnership with CrisisMappers, HealthMap has created aspecial page to monitor this ongoing crisis.  We currently are showing public health related articles for Libya and the near-by countries receiving refugees.  We also show the location of health facilities in Libya.  As information becomes available we will add data layers.

Monica Onyango describes a Complex Humanitarian Emergency (CHE) as “a situation in which prevailing conditions threaten the lives of a portion of the population who … [cannot] obtain the minimum subsistence requirement and are dependent on external humanitarian assistance for survival.”  The growing population of refugees along the borders is likely to become a CHE if it isn’t already.  The four biggest killers in CHEs are measles, diarrheal diseases, acute respiratory infections, and malaria.  Scattered reports of diarrheaconjunctivitis, and skin infections have surfaced already.  HealthMap will be increasing surveillance for any reports on disease outbreaks.  For those interested in learning more about CHEs, the CDC published guidelines for dealing with them in 1992.


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