The Kakuma refugee camp in far northwest Kenya shelters over 94,000 refugees from 13 nationalities. Adunia Ekesa arrived at the camp reception center from Ikotos in southern Sudan, exhausted after days of walking with four children. Somalis and South Sudanese are the majority of camp inhabitants. Some 100 people have been arriving daily.
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Ekesa said her husband was killed in clashes among rival groups and she is afraid to return home. The area has suffered a high rate of violence, particularly gun violence, due to disputes over scarce resources and years of strife from competing militias and forces, including - in past years - Joseph Kony's Lord's Resistance Army from neighboring Uganda.
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Achol Deng, who arrived in Kakuma on 11 May after fleeing attacks in South Sudan, received the symbolic "one millionth" bed net distributed in a partnership between Nothing But Nets and the UNHCR, the United Nations refugee agency. Since June of 2011, more than 130,000 refugees have fled violence along South Sudan's border with Sudan, from which it separated in July. Many refugees arrive with children weak from malaria and malnutrition.
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Achol Deng stands with the "one millionth" net and three of her four children. Chris Helfrich of Nothing But Nets and Elizabeth Gore of the UN Foundation were part of a team delivering nets, in partnership with the UN refugee agency. Deng was pleased with the net to protect her children but sorrowful about her fourth, who was lost en route and who she hopes is with other family members. Separation of families in the confusion of conflict is a common tragedy.
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Children in a refugee household at Kakuma pose with nets that they sleep under at night when they are most likely to be bitten by mosquitoes that transmit malaria. In 2008 malaria was the number one cause of refugee deaths. In three years, malaria had dropped to the fifth cause of death among camp-based refugees, thanks in large measure to bed nets. Partly through $10 donations from the public, Nothing But Nets has distributed over six million nets across Africa.
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