Country details


Some 200,000 refugees from the civil war in South Sudan arrived in Gambella region, western Ethiopia, between December 2013 and October 2014.

From February 2014, Médecins Sans Frontières provided medical consultations and care at entry points close to the border. Teams worked at a health post in Pagak and Tiergol, ran mobile clinics in Pamdong and Burbiey, and conducted outpatient consultations at a health post in the Matar transit camps.

Médecins Sans Frontières ran inpatient and outpatient services for refugees and the host population at a 118-bed health centre in Itang, close to Kule and Tierkidi camps, where more than 100,000 people had settled by April. When the Itang health centre flooded in August, Médecins Sans Frontières moved activities to the staff compound and had to reduce the number of beds. Médecins Sans Frontières provided decentralised medical care through two health posts in Tierkidi camp and three in Kule, and ran a 120-bed hospital in Kule. The hospital has an isolation unit for hepatitis E patients and between July and the end of the year, 541 people with suspected hepatitis E received medical care.

To address the lack of clean water and sanitation facilities in Kule and Tierkidi camps, Médecins Sans Frontières set up a water treatment plant that produced 56.4 million litres of safe water before it was handed over to Oxfam in July. Teams also constructed more than 2,500 showers, 1,200 latrines and 180 hand washing points in the camps.
Médecins Sans Frontières launched a preventative vaccination campaign against cholera in Gambella region in July, targeting 155,000 refugees and members of the host community who received two doses of the vaccine. In November, some 23,000 children aged six weeks to five years were immunised against pneumococcus and common childhood diseases.

Southern Nations, Nationalities and People’s Region (SNNPR)
A programme focused on health services for mothers and children under five continued in the Aroressa and Chire woredas of Sidama, SNNPR. Teams worked in health centres in Mejo and Chire and conducted outreach activities in 13 locations. During the course of the project, which was handed over to the Ministry of Health in October, two maternity waiting houses were constructed to enable women with high-risk pregnancies and who lived far from health facilities to deliver safely. Médecins Sans Frontières also supported referrals of paediatric emergencies and women presenting with complications during labour to hospitals in Hawassa, Yirga Alem or Addis Ababa.

Médecins Sans Frontières started a new project in SNNPR in October, together with the Regional Health Bureau. Its purpose is to strengthen the emergency preparedness, surveillance system and response capacity of the public health management team in six selected zones of the SNNPR. These zones are Sidama, Wollayta, Gamogofa, Segen, South Omo and Bench Maji.

Somali region
Underdevelopment and conflict between the government and armed opposition groups pose barriers to healthcare in Somali region, and 200–500 refugees from Somalia arrive in the Liben zone each month. The population of Buramino and Hiloweyn refugee camps, Liben zone, has reached 77,000. MSF continued to assist with the provision of basic healthcare at the reception centre and in the camps. A team also provided medical care for Somali refugees and the host community in Dolo Ado, Liben zone. In the hospital, Médecins Sans Frontières supported the paediatric inpatient department, stabilisation centre, emergency room and laboratory, as well as emergency obstetric surgery and maternity services. Between January and March teams vaccinated 12,100 children against measles and carried out several rounds of polio vaccinations in collaboration with the Regional Bureau of Health.

Médecins Sans Frontières supported the regional hospital in Degehabur, providing inpatient care for children under five, tuberculosis (TB) treatment, nutritional support, and emergency room and intensive care services. It also supported three health centres and nine health posts in Degehabur, Ararso and Birqod woredas, and conducted outreach activities. The focus in 2014 was on mother and infant health – there were 2,578 antenatal consultations – as well as nutrition and vaccination activities.

In September, Médecins Sans Frontières started supporting Fiq hospital, Nogob zone, and provided an emergency referral system, outpatient services, nutritional support, paediatric inpatient care, obstetrics and gynaecology, and pharmacy and laboratory services. A network of community health workers was also established.

In Danod, Médecins Sans Frontières offered basic healthcare in the 24-hour health centre and ran weekly mobile clinics in four villages in the district. The team conducted more than 12,000 consultations in 2014. Médecins Sans Frontières supported the hospital’s paediatric, TB and maternity departments, as well as a stabilisation unit for severely malnourished children and was involved in the set-up of an operating theatre run by the Ministry of Health, which provides emergency obstetric surgery. A measles vaccination campaign was carried out in collaboration with local health authorities in March, reaching 4,300 children, and eight rounds of polio vaccinations were completed in Wardher and the surrounding area.

Kala azar and malnutrition in Amhara
The parasitic disease kala azar , endemic in this area, is usually fatal if left untreated. Médecins Sans Frontières continued its programme for patients with kala azar in Abdurafi, Amhara region, including those co-infected with HIV/AIDS or TB. More than 1,200 people were screened for kala azar in 2014.

Médecins Sans Frontières first worked in the country in:

No. staff: 1,226

This text is an excerpt from the 2014 International Activity Report, published annually looking at our work in the previous year. The full report is available here.

A tale of a Desperate Midwife


In the left corner of the maternity ward of Dolo Ado health centre, Médecins Sans Frontières midwife Aisha Akello has an emotional discussion with a woman sitting on the hospital bed. Unlike the rest of the women in the modest...more

Category: Letters from the field

Unobstructed motherhood: women delivering safely in Sidama, Ethiopia


Oval-shaped huts scattered amid lush trees and expansive green meadows are typical of villages in the Sidama zone, where Médecins Sans Frontières runs a maternal health project in the Chire and Mejo divisions.more

Category: Field news

Ethiopia: Tens of thousands of South Sudanese refugees receive cholera vaccine


A vaccine against cholera is being used on a large scale for the first time in Ethiopia by teams from Médecins Sans Frontières. The mass immunisation campaign will protect South Sudanese refugees in Ethiopia’s Gambella region, as...more

Category: Press releases

Ethiopia: Stopping Cholera in its Tracks


Over 140,000 people have arrived in the Gambella region of Ethiopia as they fled from the war in South Sudan.The rainy season and poor hygiene conditions contribute to the spread of infectious diseases in camps.

Category: Video gallery

Critical conditions for South Sudanese refugees in Gambella


South Sudanese refugees continue to arrive in Gambella, Ethiopia, fleeing their homes because of the violence, and walking for days seeking safe shelter and food. But the conditions in the Gambella camps are far from ideal, with...

Category: Field news

South Sudanese Refugees in Ethiopia: An emergency situation requiring a special response


Médecins Sans Frontières has been providing medical aid to South Sudanese refugees in Ethiopia since January. Antoine Foucher, Médecins Sans Frontières’ head of mission in Ethiopia, describes the urgency of the refugees’...more

Category: Field news

Ethiopia - Refugees left to fend for themselves


90,000 South Sudanese people have fled the war raging in their country. They've taken refuge in Gambella in the west of Ethiopia and are in desperate need of assistance.

Category: Video gallery
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