October 14, 1997

MSF Appeals for Humanitarian Corridor

Brazzaville/New York, October 15, 1997 — All international humanitarian assistance to the war-torn city of Brazzaville, Congo Republic, came to an end today, with the departure of the last team of the international medical aid agency Doctors Without Borders (also known as Médecins Sans Frontières or MSF). MSF is appealing to the Government of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), which controls cross-border traffic, to create a humanitarian corridor to reach the tens of thousands of displaced people remaining in the area.

About 500,000 displaced are entirely dependent on foreign aid for medical care. The remaining stocks of medical supplies in the city are expected to last a maximum of two weeks. "In the past few weeks the situation in Brazzaville has really deteriorated. There are more war-wounded, more malnourished, more sick, more displaced," says Roland Bouwkamp, coordinator of the MSF team in Brazzaville. "There is a serious danger of epidemics like measles and cholera with high concentrations of people in poor condition, malnutrition, and the start of the rainy season."

Following the first attacks from Brazzaville on Kinshasa two weeks ago, the DRC Government closed the border with Congo. All international aid came to a halt, except for MSF, which was granted temporary permission to remain; this permission has been withdrawn today. In the last few days, MSF has been stock-piling as much as possible, particularly drugs and special food for feeding centres. Over the last two days alone, MSF supplied eight metric tons of high-protein biscuits, milk and oil.

Since the outbreak of hostilities, MSF has been providing medical care to about 100,000 displaced people in the south of Brazzaville and 60,000 to the north of the frontline. It has supported two hospitals, four clinics and a mobile clinic with drugs, medical materials, and medical care. It has also vaccinated 15,000 children against measles and has been running a field hospital with 230 beds. The organization also takes care of several thousand Rwandan refugees.

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