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During the 1994 crisis in Rwanda, a high incidence of full-thickness rectal prolapse was noted among the refugee children in the south-west of the country. The prolapses arose as a result of acute diarrhoeal illness superimposed on malnutrition and worm infestation. We used a modification of the Thiersch wire technique in 40 of these cases during two months working in a refugee camp. A catgut pursestring was tied around the anal margin under local, regional or general anaesthesia. This was effective in achieving short-term control of full-thickness prolapse until the underlying illness was corrected. Under the circumstances, no formal follow-up could be arranged; however, no complications were reported and only one patient presented with recurrence.