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By: Emile Dawisha

World Refugee Day: Meet Achol

June 18 2018

On World Refugee Day, we reflect on the 68.5 million displaced people who are fleeing war, famine and persecution worldwide. These people face staggering risks – from safety and exploitation to sanitation and malnutrition – on their journey to secure better futures.

Among the most deadly, and most overlooked, threats faced by migrating populations is malaria: 60% of refugees and internally-displaced people (IDPs) settle in malaria-endemic areas.

Protecting refugee and IDP populations from malaria has long been a priority for Nothing But Nets. In partnership with the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), we have distributed over 1 million bed nets to settlements throughout Africa, often in rapid-response after a mass migration has occurred.

If you’ve ever met a refugee, you know that they are some of the most remarkable and resilient people in the world. If you need more proof of that, consider the story of Achol Deng.

Our team met Achol while visiting the Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya, located on a searing, inhospitable patch of land near the border with South Sudan. Achol was standing in line with her children at a new-arrivals area to receive food, water, medicine, and bed nets.

A week earlier, her husband was killed in the country’s ongoing civil war. Suddenly widowed, Achol left home with her four children amidst chaos to begin a seven-day journey to safety. She became separated from one of her children along the way. Achol arrived at camp with her three other little ones, hoping that her eldest girl would resurface with a relative.

Seven days trekking hundreds of miles through extreme heat and some of the harshest conditions on earth, with little access to food and water, facing life in a refugee camp without her husband and one of her children – Achol's reality is unimaginable. Yet she endured, doing everything she could for her children.

Sadly, we may never know whether Achol ever reunited with her eldest daughter, and if her family ever returned to their homeland. But we at least know that Achol had a bed net that protected her family from malaria, the leading cause of death among children under five in Kakuma. Your support to Nothing But Nets has helped us distribute over 1 million bed nets to refugee/IDP families throughout Africa.

In honor of World Refugee Day, Nothing But Nets has launched a fundraising effort to purchase over 140,000 bed nets for the specific use of responding to mass migrations in Sub-Saharan Africa. These nets will be distributed by airlift, by road, and by sea to settlements once an influx of refugees and internally-displaced persons arrive.

To support the thousands of people like Achol, please click here, and your gift will be doubled to make twice the impact. Immediate action is needed to ensure timely distributions: The quicker we can raise the funds, the quicker we can distribute these life-saving nets to the families that need them most.

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