Sahara refugee camps: Iodine in camel milk leads to goitre
Article image
Sigrun Henjum defended today her PhD thesis on the iodine levels in the Saharawi refugee camps in Algeria.
Published 21 October 2011

The dissertation for PhD degree, ’Excessive iodine intake among refugees from Western Sahara. - A cross-sectional study of long-term refugees located in Algeria’ was today successfully defended at the Oslo and Akershus University College.

The data for the thesis was collected during a field work in the Saharawi refugee camps in 2007, where the researcher took samples of the iodine concentration in urine, drinking water and food, as well as carrying out both ultra sound tests of the thyroid and questionnaires. More than 800 women and children from 92 households took part in the survey.

The study showed significant public health problems related to the iodine intake.

“There were sky high levels of iodine in camel milk”, Henjum stated during her presentation.

Urine samples of children showed that the median level of iodine was the double of recommended. In women, the median level was 1,5 times the recommended level.

The source of the problem is probably due to iodine in the drinking water and milk – particularly camel milk. The urinary iodine levels correlated with the levels of iodine in the drinking water. In addition, in households with livestock children had an increased thyroid volume. The studies also found that 46 % of the women were anaemic, something that negatively affects the thyroid function.

UN human rights expert decries “clampdown” on human rights defenders

Morocco must stop targeting human rights defenders and journalists standing up for human rights in Western Sahara, and allow them to work without reprisals, UN special rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, said today.

01 July 2021

Sultana's home raided by police, activists arrested

In an early morning raid today, masked agents terrorized and assaulted the home of the Saharawi human rights defender Sultana Khaya, stole belongings and took three activists to an undisclosed location.

10 May 2021

UN experts urge Morocco to release imprisoned Sahrawi journalist

On 7 June 2019, videos began to circulate showing Moroccan police brutally beating up a Saharawi journalist in occupied Western Sahara. Today, a UN opinion calling for his release from prison was made public. 

07 February 2021

Sultana has spent two months in house arrest

The Saharawi activist Sultana Khaya and her family has for almost 10 weeks been harrassed by Moroccan police when leaving or entering their home in occupied Western Sahara. Help us to denounce. 

26 January 2021