Since last June, more than 130,000 refugees—and counting—have entered South Sudan and neighboring countries to escape fighting on the border of Sudan. As the situation worsens, the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) is providing food, water, and shelter. Living in a country where malaria is the leading cause of death among children under five, the refugee families in South Sudan need another life-saving tool: insecticide-treated bed nets.
To meet this need, the United Nations Foundation's Nothing But Nets campaign launched a nationwide appeal this week to send 100,000 life-saving bed nets to help these families sleep safely. Broadway shows in many Nederlander theaters across the U.S. are fundraising, while NBA star Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors and WNBA star Ruth Riley of the Chicago Sky are raising awareness to help Nothing But Nets reach this goal as quickly as possible.
Mark Kirya, a UNHCR program and public information officer, stresses that bed nets are critical for the survival of the refugees he’s working with in South Sudan. “As families flee their homes to escape the perilous clutches of violence on Sudan’s borders, they are left with little choice but to occupy the densely populated refugee camps in South Sudan and neighboring countries,” explains Kirya, “While UNHCR provides basic and essential assistance in health care, water, shelter among other areas, without additional support they can do little to stem the rising threat of malaria as it continues to decimate young children and families.”
“Nothing But Nets is inviting everyone to help refugees in South Sudan. Whether you’re a student, a basketball player or a businessperson, you can send nets and save lives,” says Elizabeth Gore, Vice President of Global Partnerships at the UN Foundation.
“These refugees face a tragedy of many dimensions. In particular, it is devastating to families,” says Curry. “That’s one aspect of this crisis that motivates me to help, knowing how important families are to the future of individual children and the overall society they live in.”
A major partner of Nothing But Nets , The Nederlander Organization, is encouraging audiences at many of their theatres across the country to send nets and save lives in South Sudan. Nederlander’s month-long effort kicks off with “Fela!,” which is opening at Broadway In Chicago this week, and culminates with an audience appeal at Disney’s “THE LION KING” on Broadway on April 25, World Malaria Day. The program is also being supported at Nederlander presentations in Los Angeles, San Diego, Tucson, and Durham. “Nothing But Nets enables us to shine our spotlight on an important health issue that everyone in our country needs to be aware of. Audiences from around the world attend our theatres and supporting this initiative is one way we can give back,” says James L. Nederlander, President of The Nederlander Organization.
South Sudan is roughly the size of Texas, and families escaping the fighting are moving into the safer zones away from the border, where the violence is concentrated. More than 130,000 refugees have fled fighting on the border of Sudan and South Sudan since last June and observers expect 75,000 more this year. Malaria is a leading cause of death among refugees and the number one cause of death in South Sudan among children under five—bed nets are an easy, cost-effective tool to keep families safe.
To date, Nothing But Nets has raised over $40 million to distribute more than 6 million nets to families throughout Africa. To learn more, visit www.NothingButNets.net.