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									                              Water Sanitation in Refugee Camps
                           Cerritos High School Model United Nations
                                    October Conference 2011

Committee: United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)
Topic: Water Sanitation in Refugee Camps

        Welcome Delegates! My name is Joseph Chan and I will be the Director of the United
Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) committee for your 2011 Cerritos Model
United Nation conference! First off, I would like to introduce myself. I am currently a senior
here at Cerritos High and this is my fourth year in Model UN! UNHCR is definitely my most
favorite and most passionate committee I’ve ever participated in. Aside from MUN, I am also
Co-President of my school’s Taiwanese Club, Secretary of the Make-A-Wish Club; I am a
Varsity Track and Field athlete, I am part of the school’s Yearbook Staff, and I am a member of
the National Honor Society. During my free time, I enjoy tutoring young children academic
subjects as well as being an active leader in the community.
        Water sanitation is vital for refugees throughout under-developed nations, especially in
Sub-Saharan Africa. While the access to sanitized water may be pertinent, it is the sole duty of
the UNHCR to provide and ensure adequate needs for refugees on a global scale. I chose the
topic of water sanitation in refugee camps because it is a basic and primary necessity for all
refugees. Women and children are among the most vulnerable in underdeveloped nations that are
currently being affected by unsanitary water. Both sanitary water and its accessibility in
correlation to refugee camps should be addressed in a timely manner. Delegates are expected to
be well researched and well prepared before the committee session begins. Until then, I wish you
all best of luck and if you have any questions along the way, feel free to email me at
        Accessibility to water is a basic human right, and UNHCR is the primary UN
organization that helps to improve the lives of refugees. By 2005, the UNHCR estimated
approximately 1.8 million refugees and approximately 93 camps located in 24 countries amongst
the global community. Thirty-two percent of the refugees were internally displaced and another
eleven percent of the persons became stateless. Due to this, the UNHCR mandates and controls
the physical safety of human protection for the refugees. The most stringent area of health related
issues revolved around sanitary water are cholera and malaria. Poor hygiene and lack of
sanitation facilities is a major contributing factor. In 1994, Rwanda experienced a relatively high
number of deaths accounting over 60,000 deaths due to lack of sanitary water accessibility as
well as health related issues including diarrhea, malaria, and cholera. In Sub-Saharan Africa, the
mortality rate hovers at age 20.
         Due to the influx of refugees during the Rwanda crises in 1994 alongside the detrimental
health cases of malnutrition and dehydration, between 5-8 refugees out of 10,000 refugees died
per day. Additionally, during the Rwanda crises, case studies have shown that children under the
age of 5 have been found more vulnerable towards death due to unsanitary water. Between 18-23
percent of all occurred deaths of children are due to unsanitary water. Not only in refugee camps,
but also household fecal-oral diseases in regions such as Mozambique play a role in deaths due
to unsanitary water. Statistics have shown that with consumption of water between 30 Liters per
day leads to less frequent cholera and diarrhea cases in children, as opposed to consuming only
10-15 Liters of water per day. Coping with such mechanisms and equal distribution of the
sanitized water is a primary goal for the UNHCR to provide and establish operations that would
                             Water Sanitation in Refugee Camps
                          Cerritos High School Model United Nations
                                   October Conference 2011

eventually bring adequate and sufficient quality water that wouldn’t contribute to health-related
issues. 70-80% of affected civilians that lack sanitary water include women and children
Past United Nation Actions
        The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and World Health
Organization (WHO) are the two most essential organizations that provide safety towards
accessible sanitized water to refugee camps. An emergency response between UNHCR and
WHO has been established in the past in order to more easily facilitate health related issues with
unsanitary water while at the same time outreaching ill patients and providing basic health
guidelines through cost-effective interventions. The UNHCR is primarily in charge of mandating
and monitoring surveillance systems to indicate specifically the location and amount needed to
suffice the needs of refugees. The UNHCR itself holds partnerships with over 102 partnership
organizations, as noted from a case study by Médecins Sans Frontières between the years 2003-
2005 from both governmental and non-governmental organizations. The UNHCR has been
conducting heavy research and mainly focuses on regions including Algeria, Bangladesh, Chad,
Kenya, Nepal, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Sudan and Uganda.
        Mortality, malnutrition, and provision on sanitary water are all aspects targeted by both
the WHO and UNHCR. The UNHCR additionally sets standards and operations that help prevent
diarrhea and cholera. Communicable diseases and health sectors are parts of the UNHCR
coordinating reports that involve a link between water sanitation and collective data obtained
through nutrition surveys in refugee camps. Lack of proper hygiene in Eastern Africa is also a
main focus for the UNHCR, which is why the UNHCR introduced the standardized Health
Information System, which altogether develops an analysis on core distribution mechanisms and
variation in annual reports on sanitary water. Cholera and other disease outbreaks as well as
refugee camp protection is primarily overlooked by the UNHCR.
        A/Res/302 was the first essential UN resolution that took action towards humanitarian
efforts and mechanisms to alleviate the needs of refugees. It clearly outlines nutritional
guidelines, private health sectors, and reports towards allocation of sanitary water to refugee
camps. Both the WHO and UNHCR introduced guidelines that would set sanitation provisions
within humanitarian communities which all together stresses the minimum health need for
refugees. This includes the needed consumption of 20 Liters of water per day for refugees as
well as ensuring that pipeline leakage and spillage does not occur.
        The financial constraint leaves a major gap in the possibility of accessing sanitary water
in refugee camps. Therefore, basic monitoring through the UNHCR of household diseases and
priority interventions coped with health mechanisms are basic yet substantial functions of the
UNHCR to further prevent health-related deaths. The World Food Program is an additional
organization that works in conjunction with the UNHCR that helps produce global strategies and
private sectors for monitoring as well as funding operations that would increase accessibility to
food and water resources. In more arid regions such as Chad and Darfur, it is even more difficult
to obtain adequate water due to environmental conditions.
Previous Solutions
        The UNCHR’s principal global monitoring plays a vital role in overlooking health
centers to ensure both financial and medical infrastructure. Integrated plans and initiatives set
between the WFP and UNHCR have shown to be extremely effective in communicating specific
programming as well as enabling strategic global plans for integrating adequate water resources.
                              Water Sanitation in Refugee Camps
                           Cerritos High School Model United Nations
                                    October Conference 2011

Monitoring and overlooking refugees while providing sufficient living standards is the primary
function of the UNHCR. Therefore, strong monitoring initiatives of budget submissions through
private health sectors have been its key strategies in alleviating the lives of refugees.
         Financial stability holds a heavy factor in accessing the sanitary water within refugee
camps. Holding annual health interventions, fundraising project proposals, and global health
strategies have been the primary objectives for the UNHCR for the past century. In order to
maintain the overall health of refugee camps, the UNHCR in the past has set health standards
through nutritional guidelines to prevent communicable diseases as well as household diseases.
In regions such as Uganda, the UNHCR had established rehabilitation centers, life-sustainable
facilitation shelters to provide access to sanitary water, as well as basic health services pertinent
towards educating the public for reaching sanitary water to refugee camps; which altogether has
been proven successful in providing access to sanitary water.
         Delegates should address a variety of factors associated with accessibility of sanitary
water including: health guidelines and interventions, financial or budget operations, malnutrition
and sanitary provisions, and education amongst the international community to take initiative in
providing sanitary water to refugee camps. Most importantly, delegates should make a clear
indication of both short term and long term goal to effectively plan out a solution that would
altogether strengthen each country’s self-sustainability. Delegates may also propose a multi-step
plan that would address how information and assessments can be integrated to refugee camps in
order to immediately ensure adequate safety of refugees.
Bloc Positions
African Bloc: The existence of refugees is relatively prevalent in Africa due to political and
ethnic conflicts. Due to the substantial lack of sanitary water in the African bloc, delegates
representing the African bloc should incorporate some of their own nation’s experiences with
refugees’ lack of sanitary water.
Asian Bloc: The Asian bloc heavily gives immediate aid through relief projects, especially Japan.
Due to Myanmar’s current influx of refugees between ethnic group conflicts, an up rise of water
scarcity remains prevalent in Myanmar. Delegates representing the Asian bloc should give heavy
focus on contributing on a wider scale of aid amongst the international community.
Latin American Bloc: Colombia, which holds the most IDP’s in the world, gives an ample
amount of aid to the Latin American bloc. The Andean region is of the greatest concern in
regards to security and cross-border movements. Therefore, delegates representing the Latin
American bloc should place a strong emphasis on giving aid to refugees across the borders of its
own respective borders.
Middle Eastern Bloc: The Middle East has constant contact with refugees that endlessly enter its
own bloc. Middle East nations must either give aid to its bordering countries or become more
self-sustainable by giving aid to its own refugees. Refugees reside nearby towns of neighboring,
Middle Eastern countries may not be self-sustainable enough to provide the resources of its own
surrounding refugees, and thus looks upon aid from more developed nations.
Western Bloc: For centuries, the Western bloc has been the leading bloc to provide humanitarian
efforts. The United Nations, alongside UNHCR have continuously drawn support from the
Western bloc bringing essentials to the refugees. The Western bloc’s NGO’s have given a
significant amount of aid in immediate relief efforts.
Points to Consider
                             Water Sanitation in Refugee Camps
                          Cerritos High School Model United Nations
                                   October Conference 2011

    1. How have refugees impacted your country and what has your country done in the past
        that coped with providing sanitary water to refugees?
    2. Where would you get the necessary relief aid in a timely manner that would at the same
        time help monitor regions to detect more vulnerable regions (so that there would be
        immediate action)?
    3. Does your country’s geographic location affect its self-sustainability? If so, what can
        your country do to achieve stronger medical infrastructure for refugee camps?
    4. During the instance your country lacks the funds to protect the civilians that inhabit
        refugee camps, what kind of system would you implement that would prevent the
        consumption of infected water and restore its sanitation?
    5. How would your country go about setting a cost-efficient price during distribution, and
        how would you get the sanitary water to rural regions without infringing on the nation’s
    6. Raising awareness for global community action is vital to the topic as well, how would
        your country propose to get statistical information and educating the public in a timely
    7. Aside from NGO involvement in your own country, what sorts of relief programs or
        policies have your country been involved in that altogether gives immediate access to
        sanitary water in refugee camps?
Helpful Websites
1. In Scopus. "ScienceDirect - Transactions of the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and
Hygiene : Role of Water and Sanitation in the Incidence of Cholera in Refugee Camps."
ScienceDirect - Home. Web. 13 June 2011.
2.     "American Refugee Committee: ARC Rwanda." American Refugee Committee:. Web. 13
June 2011. <>.
3. "CDC - CDC Global Water Sanitation and Hygiene Program and Activities - Global Water,
Sanitation and Hygiene - Healthy Water." Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Web. 13
June 2011. <>.
4.    "CDC Features - World Water Day 2011." Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Web. 13 June 2011. <>.
5.    "Food, Water, Sanitation, and Housing in Refugee Camps." Unite For Sight. Web. 13
June 2011. <>.
6.     "MSF-USA: Refugee Camp Project - Curriculum for Teachers: Introduction, Contents."
Kid Safe Search Engine: Family Source - Child Care Resource. Web. 13 June 2011.
                             Water Sanitation in Refugee Camps
                          Cerritos High School Model United Nations
                                   October Conference 2011

7. "MSF-USA: Refugee Camp Project - Curriculum for Teachers: Introduction, Contents." Kid
Safe Search Engine: Family Source - Child Care Resource. Web. 13 June 2011.
8."The Challenges of Clean Water and Sanitation in Haiti | Mercy Corps." Be the Change |
Mercy Corps. Web. 13 June 2011. <>.
9.    "Refugees and Displaced Communities - Diarrhea, Diarrhoea - Dialogue on Diarrhoea
Online - Prevention, Control, Management and Treatment of Diarrhoeal Diseases." Diarrhoea,
Diarrhea, Dehydration, Oral Rehydration, Mother and Child Nutrition, Water, Sanitation,
Hygiene - Rehydration Project. Web. 13 June 2011. <>.
10.     "A Review of Water and Sanitation Provision in Refugee Camps in Association with
Selected Health and Nutrition Indicators." ENN: Emergency Nutrition Network. Web. 13 June
2011. <>.
11. Romero, Simon. "Poor Sanitation in Haiti’s Camps Adds Disease Risk -" The
New York Times - Breaking News, World News & Multimedia. 13 June 2011. Web. 13 June
2011. <>.
12. "Solving The Water and Sanitation Crisis through Innovation | WSP." Home | WSP. Web.
June 2011. <>.
13.      TWESA: Tanzania Water & Environmental Sanitation NGO. Web. 13 June 2011.
14. "UNHCR Requests Proposals for Water, Sanitation Services at Ampain Refugee Camp in
Ghana | OOSKAnews." OOSKAnews | Water News. Water Knowledge. Water Insight. Web. 13
June 2011. <
15. "Water and Sanitation." Web. 13 June 2011.
16.     "Water for the Refugee Camps in Eastern Chad | Projects | We Are Water Foundation."
Fundación We Are Water. Web. 13 June 2011. <
17.     "Water Sanitation and Hygiene Cluster (WASH)." Welcome to ProAct Network. Web. 13
June 2011. <
    18. "Water Supply and Sanitation in Support of Two Palestinian Refugee Camps
(WSSPRC) | Eurojar." Politique Européenne De Voisinage - Méditerranée - Eurojar. Web. 13
June 2011. <
   19. Web. 13 June 2011. <>.

Closing Remarks
        While it is the best in your own interest to engage in a stimulating debate, I hope to see
all of you well prepared and well researched the moment you step into committee. I am looking
forward to an intense debate, and I hope that all of you receive a great learning experience as
well! Please remember that this topic synopsis should serve as a starting point to your research
and should not supplement for all your research. If you have any questions or concerns, my email
                             Water Sanitation in Refugee Camps
                          Cerritos High School Model United Nations
                                   October Conference 2011

is Feel free to contact me if you have any questions about the
conference, basic procedures, ideas and/or preparations, or anything related to MUN! I’m
interested to see what innovative ideas and solutions you all come up with that addresses all the
areas associated with our topic. I wish you all best of luck! But most importantly, HAVE FUN!

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