A UN Safety Net for Refugees in Africa

Nothing But Nets And Unhcr Launch Initiative To Protect Over 600,000 Refugees In Eastern Sudan, Kenya, Tanzania And Uganda

Washington, D.C.

September 26, 2008


Megan Rabbitt

The United Nations Foundation’s Nothing But Nets campaign announced today a new initiative to help eliminate malaria deaths in the next generation. Responding to an urgent and immediate need, Nothing But Nets is working with the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to send long-lasting, insecticide-treated bed nets (bed nets) to the more than 630,000 refugees living in 27 temporary camps in East Sudan, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda.

An initial $2 million donation from the UN Foundation to UNHCR, that will help launch the refugee bed net initiative, was announced today at the closing plenary of the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI). The initiative will mobilize global engagement through Nothing But Nets’ partner organizations – including the National Basketball Association, the Union for Reform Judaism, the people of the United Methodist Church as well as supporters of UNHCR’s Human Race and ninemillion.org campaigns – to promote awareness about malaria, raise funds to purchase the bed nets needed to protect the refugees, and distribute the nets in UNHCR temporary camps.

“This partnership extends a life-saving safety net to some of the world’s most vulnerable refugees,” said Timothy E. Wirth, President of the United Nations Foundation. “This initiative represents another step toward covering the continent of Africa with anti-malaria bed nets. Malaria is a preventable disease and our growing coalition of UN agencies, faith communities and major companies are determined to reach our goal of eliminating malaria deaths in this generation.”

With the next rainy season approaching, malaria looms as a major threat to the inhabitants of these refugee camps, which are comprised primarily of women and their children. Malaria is the largest killer of refugees; bed nets are the most cost effective way to prevent malaria.
“The rainy season is fast approaching and we must act now to prevent more devastation and loss of life from malaria.” said António Guterres, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.  “Nothing But Nets makes it easy for people to get involved and help us save lives. It’s simple – send a net, save a life.”

More than 275,000 bed nets are needed to protect the refugees living in temporary camps – many have been displaced as a result of the spreading crisis in Darfur. One bed net can protect a family of four and lasts 3-5 years. Each net costs $10 to purchase, distribute and educate about its proper uses.

“We know that there are multiple ways to prevent malaria yet it continues to be one of the leading killers of refugees in Africa,” said David Stern, Commissioner of the National Basketball Association. “We must address this treatable epidemic and the NBA Family is committed to its partnerships with Nothing But Nets and UNHCR to help supply long-lasting insecticide-treated nets to those in need throughout Africa.”
Katherine Commale, age 7, and a member of the United Methodist Church, was also on stage representing Nothing But Nets’grassroots supporters. Commale has raised nearly $60,000 for the campaign since 2006.

“I first learned about malaria and bed nets from my mom,” Katherine said. When she told me that every 30 seconds a child dies from malaria I felt sad, and wanted to send bed nets to Africa right away! It makes me feel happy that I am helping keep the children safe from the mosquitoes. It has been a lot of fun being a part of Nothing But Nets and teaching other kids how they can help too. I hope we can send a lot more bed nets, because the African families really need them.”

To date, Nothing But Nets has raised more than $20 million, and has successfully distributed nets across Africa, including Gabon, Chad, Mali, and Nigeria. The first Nothing But Nets-UNHCR bed net distribution will take place in Uganda in fall 2008. Nothing But Nets will also distribute bed nets in Côte d’Ivoire and the Central African Republic in 2008.

To get involved or make a donation, visit www.NothingButNets.net. Multi-media downloads and pictures are also available at www.unfoundation.org/multimedia.


About Nothing But Nets
Nothing But Nets is a global, grassroots campaign to save lives by preventing malaria, a leading killer of children in Africa. Inspired by sports columnist Rick Reilly, tens of thousands of people have joined the campaign that was created by the United Nations Foundation in 2006. Founding campaign partners include the National Basketball Association’s NBA Cares, the people of The United Methodist Church and Sports Illustrated. It only costs $10 to provide a long-lasting insecticide-treated bed net that can prevent this deadly disease. Visit www.NothingButNets.net to send a net and save a life.

UNHCR, the UN refugee agency, twice Nobel Peace Prize winner (1954 and 1981) provides protection and assistance to refugees and internally displaced people around the world. In more than five decades, the UN refugee agency has helped an estimated 50 million people restart their lives. Today, a staff of around 6,300 people in more than 110 countries continues to help 32.9 million persons worldwide. UNHCR relies exclusively on voluntary contributions from governments, private individuals, foundations and corporations. For further information, please visit www.unhcr.org

About the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI)
Established in 2005 as a project of the non-partisan William J. Clinton Foundation, the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) convenes global leaders to devise and implement innovative solutions to some of the world’s most pressing challenges. Since 2005, CGI members have made nearly 1,000 Commitments to Action valued at upwards of $30 billion to improve more than 200 million lives in over 150 countries around the world. Through past Annual Meetings, CGI has brought together more than 80 current and former heads of state, hundreds of top CEOs and non-profit leaders, major philanthropists, and 10 of the last 16 Nobel Peace Prize laureates. For further information, please feel free to contact press@clintonglobalinitiative.org.

Press Contacts:
Katherine Miller, UN Foundation
c. 202.489.2205 e. kmiller@unfoundation.org

Amy DiElsi, UN Foundation
o. 202-419-3230 e. adielsi@unfoundation.org