Violent clashes in Sudan's Darfur region have driven tens of thousands of people across the border into Chad, where a lack of food, water, shelter, and basic services is developing into a humanitarian crisis.
Conflict in Mali has driven nearly 70,000 refugees to Mbera camp in the Mauritanian desert, where appalling conditions and inadequate assistance are leading to severe malnutrition and deaths from preventable diseases.
A flood of refugees is leaving Syria and an estimated 2 million Syrians are displaced inside the country. MSF is one of the few aid organizations helping people in rebel-held areas, and not enough aid is reaching them.
Armed conflict is continuing in Sudan's South Kordofan and Blue Nile states, and approximately 200,000 refugees have fled to camps in South Sudan since 2011. These refugees face many health problems including malnutrition and respiratory tract infections, according to MSF's Silvia de Weerdt.
In this interview, André Heller, MSF head of mission in South Sudan, discusses MSF's activities in Yida camp, where MSF has reduced the mortality rate of refugees fleeing conflict and food insecurity in Sudan.
Sheik Osman is 55 years old, a father of seven and a leader of 500 families from his village, Kwaimol. He fled Kwaimol in September, along with 18 of the families in his group. They have been living in Jamam camp since December.
"All these people in the camps are normal people who had normal lives. They’re not rich people, but they had houses and clothes, and then one day, they had to pack their things, leave their lives behind and start to walk. For weeks on end."
These first-hand accounts describe the situation for tens of thousands of refugees who fled fighting in Sudan and now face a full-blown humanitarian crisis as they seek refuge in already-overcrowded camps in South Sudan.
Refugees from the West African country of Mali face insufficient levels of assistance in camps rife with disease and malnutrition where the looming rainy season will further complicate the deployment of aid.
This document gives an overview of MSF activities related to the humanitarian crisis in Somalia and neighboring Kenya and Ethiopia. The data presented, though provisional, account for MSF’s medical activities and financial income and expenditures in this region, while the narrative illustrates how MSF as a medical aid organization responded to this evolving crisis.
2011 marks the sixtieth anniversary of the Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, yet the world's 15.1 million refugees have little reason to celebrate. Christopher Stokes, general director of MSF Belgium, discusses the past, present, and future of the Convention.
The current emergency unfolding in and around Somalia is being portrayed by many aid organizations and the media in one-dimensional terms, such as “famine in the Horn of Africa” or “worst drought in 60 years.” But only blaming natural causes ignores the complex geopolitical realities exacerbating the situation and suggests that the solution lies in merely finding funds and shipping enough food to the Horn of Africa.
Throughout the summer, waves of Somalis set out on desperate, arduous journeys, braving desert heat, hunger, and bandits to seek relief from a catastrophe remarkable even by the standards of this long-troubled country.
In this issue of Alert, we share news and images of our response to the ongoing crisis in Somalia, where MSF has spent the summer trying to expand its services to meet the latest emergency to befall the country’s people.
On May 26, a suicide bomber killed 36 people and wounded approximately 60 more near a police station in northwestern Pakistan’s Hangu district, just a few blocks from the hospital where MSF’s team lives and works.
Over the past 48 hours, MSF has been continuing to assess medical facilities in Tripoli and has begun to provide medical support, while continuing to provide lifesaving support elsewhere in the country.
MSF urges all parties in Somalia, neighboring countries, and the international community to improve assistance to the Somali population in the region and remove hurdles preventing the expansion of independent aid in Somalia.
Dr. Gedi Mohamed, director of the general hospital at Dagahaley refugee camp, in northeastern Kenya, describes what brought him to Dadaab and how MSF is coping with the severely overcrowded conditions.
After hiding out in the forest for two weeks, this family from the Ivory Coast crossed the river that separates their troubled homeland from Liberia’s Nimba County, then paused before resuming a journey they hope leads to safety. Ivory Coast has been convulsed by months of post-election strife that has forced hundreds of thousands of people to seek sanctuary elsewhere.
Hannah Megacz, a New York City-based nurse, has worked with MSF in Cameroon, Niger, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and, for much of 2010, in Dadaab, Kenya, in the Dagahaley Refugee Camp, the largest of three refugee camps set up in the 1990s for refugees fleeing war in Somalia. Originally established to accommodate 90,000 individuals, the camps are currently struggling to support 300,000 refugees. More than 100,000 now live in Dagahaley alone, in fact. The needs are significant and the resources far too few, especially as it pertains to food, water, sanitation, and shelter. MSF has spoken out about the need to provide more care for these refugees, something that seems ever more urgent as the numbers look likely to continue increasing.
This letter was sent to Heads of State or Governments of Member States of the European Union, to Presidents of European Institutions, and to the offices of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, and the International Organisation for Migration.
In an open letter to EU leaders, MSF criticized contradictory policies whereby states claim to be executing a war to protect civilians in Libya while closing thier borders to the victims of that same war.
Since the popular uprisings and violent confrontations that have shaken the Arab world began in December 2010, some 27,000 refugees, asylum seekers, and undocumented migrants from North Africa have arrived by sea on the southern Italian island of Lampedusa.
In collaboration with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the country’s Ministry of Health, an MSF medical team admitted 33 wounded patients to the hospital in the town of Malakal on the morning of February 11.
More than 500,000 people have arrived in Sukkur. Reportedly, one out of every three people there is a newcomer seeking dry shelter anywhere; empty school buildings, streets, and even old railway lines are full of people who need food, medicine, and safe, clean water.
On June 10, violent clashes between Kyrgyz and Uzbeks erupted in southern Kyrgyzstan, lasting five days, leading to major population displacement both in and outside the country. Doctors Without Borders/Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) began its emergency response on June 15.
On June 5, MSF opened new TB departments in two of its health centers in the Middle Shabelle region of Somalia. The departments will provide free quality TB services, including testing, treatment, and health education to the communities living in the surrounding areas of Mahaday and Gololey.
"Most of the patients present with physical complaints and symptoms such as loss of appetite, memory problems, sleep problems, cardiac palpitations, flashbacks of the event," says MSF psychologist Djénane Marlhen Jean Charles.
"There’s still a lot of insecurity. Attacks, killings, armed offensives and kidnappings still run rife. The population lives in a constant state of tension, always ready to flee en masse at the slightest rumor of an attack by the rebels from the LRA."
In June 2009, Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) released a report, No Refuge, Access Denied, which outlined the severe risks Zimbabweans took in order to cross the border, the dangerous conditions under which they lived once they reached South Africa, and their lackof access to health care.
MSF is expressing grave concern for the health and lives of thousands of survival migrants and refugees entering and living in South Africa. Sexual violence, appalling living conditions, police harassment, threats of xenophobic attacks, and a lack of access to essential health care still define the desperate lives of thousands of these vulnerable people.
“The majority of them were hungry and exhausted when we received them. We fear the worst for those who remain stranded. They can’t receive any help because they’re caught behind the front line,” said Laurence Gaubert, MSF head of mission in DRC.
Bukavu, DRC / New York, March 11, 2010 - MSF is deeply concerned by the rapidly worsening situation in the isolated area of Hauts Plateaux in the region of Uvira, South Kivu, in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Dr. Philippe Touchard, an anesthetist, is head of emergencies at the Pasteur Hospital in Langon, near Bordeaux. Forty-eight hours after the January 12 earthquake, he flew to Haiti to reinforce MSF’s surgical teams in Port-au-Prince. Here are exerpts of his journal of this short mission.
Staff members are mostly from Darfur, and have felt the impact of the conflict in their daily lives. Both they and the patients they tend to have experienced immense loss, yet they carry on with dignity and give generously to one another.
In three days, 2,100 children were vaccinated by three teams located in different areas around Munda camp. The vaccines and cold chain were provided by the Department of Health, and MSF teams conducted the vaccination.
Some worry about more than a rebel movement—they were brutally attacked by their own neighbors. They are still afraid. These refugees do not yet have status guaranteeing them protection and could be forced to return.
Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is still providing surgical and medical health care to the displaced people in Vavuniya district, northern Sri Lanka. Some war-wounded need specific medical care, like orthopedic surgery, and around 95,000 people remain in Manik Farm camp. Additional medical capacities could be needed in the areas of return, as a result of the resettlement process.
In Pakistan, Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is providing medical assistance to a vulnerable population suffering the effects of political instability, poor access to adequate health care, and natural disasters. Having been present in the country since 1988, today MSF largely focus its activities in the northwest of the country where armed conflict is raging on both sides of the border and millions of displaced remain in need of medical care.
A recent upsurge of violence, sparked by inter-community conflicts in Equateur Province in the northwest of Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), has forced 74,000 people to flee their homes. Many have headed for the country’s interior, while others have taken refuge across the border, in the Republic of the Congo, where their health remains in peril.
Approximately 24,000 refugees recently arrived in northern Republic of Congo. They are fleeing serious violence related to conflict in areas of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is the only organization providing assistance and people are in critical need of food and relief materials from other aid organizations.
Violent clashes over water sources near Shangil Tobaya, a town in North Darfur, Sudan, have caused a number of casualties and the displacement of more than 3000 people. Since October 20, Doctors Without Borders/Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) has provided medical care to 12 wounded people and referred nine to the Al-Fashir Teaching Hospital. All nine patients are in stable condition.
Armed conflict is intensifying across the Nariño Department, in the southwest of the country, where various armed groups are fighting for the land due to its strategic relevance, the presence of coca crops and economic interest. As a result of the fighting, 12,400 people have been displaced in Nariño in 2009 alone, according to official figures. Mostly, these people receive little or no care during the first days following their arrival.
MSF is currently working in northeastern DRC, providing more than 9,000 medical consultations a month in hospitals and health centers. MSF has also distributed relief items to some 16,000 people displaced by violence, and provided vaccinations and mental health support. In total, 27 international staff work alongside 140 Congolese colleagues in MSF projects in Haut-Uélé and Bas-Uélé.
Intense fighting among various armed groups claimed the lives of hundreds of civilians and displaced thousands more in Somalia in the first half of 2009. The town of Jamaame, in a remote area of southern Somalia’s Lower Juba region, is one area where MSF has been able to provide ongoing medical services.
According to local authorities, its capacity is for up to 300 people, but when I visited I saw three times that many people—men, women, adolescents, and children—living in overcrowded cells, most of them sleeping on mattresses on the floor with no bed sheets.
Following four days of heavy rains in Niger’s northern Air Mountains, severe floods wreaked havoc on the city of Agadez on September 1. Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) teams present in the city provided emergency assistance in order to meet the urgent needs of the affected population.
On August 29, a violent attack in Twic East County, Jonglei State in Southern Sudan, resulted in the reported deaths of 42 people, many of them women and children. Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is currently mobilizing resources to help the victims of the attack, which injured more than 60 persons and displaced up to 24,000 people.
Internally displaced people (IDP) camps set up by the government and the military are mostly empty, as the overwhelming majority of the displaced are either staying with friends or relatives or in public buildings such as schools. Many people are still too afraid to return to their homes.
As displaced people return home to the Swat Valley and Buner district in northern Pakistan, MSF is stepping up its support to local health care providers in Mardan and Lower Dir districts in response to a sharp increase in cases of acute diarrhea.
Violent attacks on Congolese villages by the Lord's Resistance Army have displaced hundreds of thousands of people. Underreported examines the humanitarian crisis in the DRC and neighboring countries with Bruno Jochum, director of operations for Doctors without Borders in Geneva, and with Alexandre Morhain a project coordinator working with displaced Congolese in Southern Sudan.
Since September 2008, LRA rebels from neighboring Uganda have committed acts of extreme violence against people in Haut-Uélé and Bas-Uélé provinces in northeastern DRC. In March, the situation deteriorated further when countries in the region launched a joint military offensive against the LRA.
"When we arrived, five armed men took us by surprise. They were accompanied by three hostages, including a woman who was translating what they were saying. They tied our hands and took us into the bush."
In the north of Yemen, what is being referred to as a "sixth war" between the army and the Al Houthi rebels began on August 11. Once again the population is subjected to violence and deprived of health care. MSF is providing medical care to the wounded and assisting the displaced as much as the security conditions allow.
Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is resuming activities in the detention center for undocumented migrants in Pagani on the Greek island of Lesvos in the northeastern Aegean Sea. The project is focusing on the provision of psychosocial support to the center’s detainees.
Intense conflict and violence continues to affect hundreds of thousands of civilians in the provinces of North and South Kivu in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The toll of sexual violence remains extremely high. During clashes and brutal attacks on villages, people are killed, raped, wounded, or forced to flee to the bush or to camps.
Attacks on villages by the Lord's Resistance Army have displaced hundreds of thousands of people. Many of the rebel group's victims have been abducted, raped or killed. Tens of thousands of survivors have taken refuge in Southern Sudan, including one 16-year-old boy.
Over the past weeks, civilians have continued to suffer from violent attacks in several areas of northern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Southern Sudan. Ugandan rebels of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) have been perpetrating acts of extreme violence on the populations in both countries. This violence was further exacerbated by the operations conducted against the LRA by national armies in the region. Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) teams have been providing assistance to the displaced and resident populations by offering free health care and psychosocial support, and by improving living conditions.
During the rainy season, which would coincide with the hunger gap—the time just before the next harvest when food stocks dwindle—we would treat more than 1,200 severely and moderately malnourished children every week. Because of this great need, we refused to allow anything to interfere with our activities.
"Internally displaced people in Colombia often describe themselves as being 'refugees for life'. On the one hand, this stigmatizes them. On the other, the conflict has penetrated deeply into the social fabric of society."
On Tuesday, July 14, Doctors Without Borders/Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) witnessed a group of approximately 30 police officers and local officials enter the Kutupalong makeshift camp in Cox’s Bazaar, Bangladesh, and destroy 259 homes, looting people’s possessions in the process. Other residents of the makeshift camp were told that they had 48 hours to leave or their homes would be burned down.
"So in August we tried one more time. We had been at sea for four days and four nights when our boat broke down. There were about 50 people on board. We were rescued by a Maltese ship and brought to Malta."
MSF has resumed work in Ta’kandja detention center for migrants and asylum-seekers in Malta after authorities committed to enable the provision of effective medical care and to ensure adequate living conditions for detainees. About 60 percent of patients MSF has treated there are from Somalia.
MSF runs emergency medical programs for asylum seekers and migrants on the border shores of a number of countries, calls for minimum standards in their reception, and denounces their systematic detention.
Pakistan’s Mardan District, in North West Frontier Province, is trying to cope with an influx of more than one million people fleeing war in the region. MSF has increased the number of hospital wards in the Mardan Medical Complex and is supporting the nearby Takht Bhai Rural Health Center to help treat the growing number of patients.
Laila is one of 25,000 unregistered Rohingya refugees in the area who have sought a safe place to live on the outskirts of the state-endorsed refugee camp supported by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Unlike their approximately 10,000 registered counterparts, the unregistered refugees in Kutupalong struggle to survive day to day, living in squalid conditions, vulnerable to ill health and exploitation.
Coming mainly from neighboring Swat, but also from the Maidan area in Lower Dir, more than 150 war-wounded have been treated since the end of April. At the same time, families from Maidan have been arriving in the two camps for displaced people where MSF is working.
Kutupalong, Bangladesh, June 18, 2009—Thousands of unregistered Rohingya refugees living in the Kutupalong makeshift camp, Bangladesh, are being forcibly displaced from their homes, in an act of intimidation and abuse by the local authorities.
In the areas of Haut-Uélé and Bas-Uélé, in the northeast of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Ugandan rebels from the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) have committed violent attacks in response to military operations launched by the armies of Uganda, DRC, and Southern Sudan.
MSF was recently alerted to a growing health crisis in the Kutupalong area of Bangladesh, where thousands of Rohingya—a Muslim ethnic minority originating from northern Rakhine state in Myanmar—are struggling to survive unassisted in a makeshift camp.
In the northeast of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and in the south of neighboring Sudan, Ugandan rebels from the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) have been perpetrating acts of extreme violence on civilians in response to operations conducted against them by national armies of the DRC, Uganda, and southern Sudan.
While Sri Lanka’s Ministry of Health has set up a system to provide initial treatment to the wounded and sick people in displaced persons camps, the needs remain immense, requiring an around-the-clock medical presence in the camps to respond to all emergencies.
MSF provides care to hundreds of thousands of people in six states in Southern Sudan. In recent months, increasing violence and insecurity caused mostly by fighting between different tribes, as well as heightened tensions around disarmament initiatives, criminality in the regional capital, Juba, and road banditry has made it more difficult for MSF field teams to reach people in need of aid.
"Violence has never stopped, it has always been present. Sometimes it is the result of the political conflict between the government and armed groups and sometimes it is different: banditry or intra-community conflicts."
As intense violence once again rocks Mogadishu, Somalia’s capital, teams from Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) continue working throughout the country to provide lifesaving medical care.
Johannesburg/Brussels/New York, June 2, 2009 – Violence, sexual abuse, harassment, appalling living conditions, and a serious lack of access to essential healthcare define the desperate lives of thousands of Zimbabweans in South Africa today, warned the international medical humanitarian aid organization, Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF).
Despite the fact that many Zimbabweans risk their lives to flee Zimbabwe, the South African government has historically characterised them as ‘voluntary economic migrants’ and aggressively deported them. Zimbabweans say they had little choice but to leave and thousands continue to cross the border every day, legally and illegally, as a matter of survival.
MSF teams have been providing medical services day and night at different locations in Vavuniya district, including the hospital in Vavuniya city and at the checkpoint in Omanthai, close to the former frontline.
The volatile situation in Pakistan’s North West Frontier Province (NWFP) continues to force more and more civilians to flee their homes. A total of 27 camps in six different districts have been set up to give temporary shelter, but many people remain trapped in the conflict areas, due to insecurity and strict curfews, prevented from gaining access to food, water and emergency medical care.
Over the past four months, the Thai military has used heightened restrictions and coercive tactics to pressure some 4,700 ethnic Lao Hmong refugees, who claim to have fled violence and persecution in Laos, to renounce their claims for protection and accept a forced return to Laos.
MSF denounces the growing pressure applied by Thailand’s army to force the 5,000 Hmong refugees living in Huai Nam Khao camp, in northern Thailand, to return to Laos. Increasingly restrictive measures have forced MSF to put a stop to its assistance activities after some four years of presence in the camp.
Nairobi/Geneva/New York, May 18, 2009 – More than 270,000 refugees who have fled war in Somalia are facing such alarming shortages of food, water, and adequate shelter in severely overcrowded camps in northern Kenya that many are considering returning to the Somali war zone, the international medical humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) said today.
All these people had fled their villages in a hurry, and it was difficult for them to get health care because they couldn’t pay for it. That’s why it was so important for us to provide free medical consultations in both locations.
People in the northern region of North Kivu province, in the east of Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) have been fleeing violence since late January, when an offensive was launched by DRC's army against the rebel Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda. Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is providing medical care in several of the regions’ towns and villages, where the population includes nearly 230,000 displaced persons.
Bangui/New York, April 30, 2009 — A new escalation of violence between the army and a rebel group in the north of Central African Republic (CAR), has forced, once again, thousands of people to flee their homes. Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) estimates there could be around 8,000 newly displaced in the region of Kabo and Moyen Sido. They have sought refuge in the bush, where they live in particularly harsh conditions in the current rainy season, with no access to healthcare and out of reach of humanitarian aid.
An interview with Lisabeth List, MSF Medical Coordinator in Vavuniya, Sri Lanka, about the 150,000 civilians that have escaped the war zone in northern Sri Lanka where Tamil Tiger rebels are positioned in a standoff against the ethnic Sinhalese government forces.
Patient numbers at Vavuniya hospital stabilized this past weekend as new arrivals were diverted to other hospitals. MSF has offered to scale up its medical activities and is currently in talks with authorities to do so.
Amsterdam/Paris/New York, April 23, 2009 — The Dutch and French sections of MSF reiterate their grave concern for the patients left behind in Darfur and denounce the unacceptable conditions of their expulsion.
The dead were among a group who had departed two days prior from the port of Bosasso, Somalia, fleeing insecurity or extreme poverty on a smuggler’s boat. They were travelling in extremely harsh conditions across the Gulf of Aden to reach Yemen.
Over the last 36 hours, MSF surgeons, alongside Ministry of Health staff, have been working around the clock to treat more than 400 war-wounded patients who have arrived in Vavuniya hospital in the government-controlled area of northern Sri Lanka.
In Vavuniya, about 50 miles south of where the fighting is taking place, MSF provides food in 10 camps for displaced people and works in the area’s hospital. Two MSF surgeons provide support to the existing surgical team; in March, they carried out almost 800 operations.
In Balochistan, Pakistan's largest and least developed province, most people have very limited access to health care. MSF supports a mother-and-child health care program in Kuchlak, a remote settlement outside the regional capital Quetta made up mostly of Afghan refugees. Here, the all-female staff in the delivery unit offer free and much needed obstetric services.
Following recent displacement of families around Dubasa River, in the Chocó region of northwest Colombia, Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is bringing medical care and water and sanitation support to the population.
Some 533 people survived the dangerous journey from northern Somalia across the Gulf of Aden to Yemen on smugglers’ boats during one week in December 2008. At least 28 passengers did not survive the trip. Desperate to escape the violence and hopelessness of Somalia, these passengers routinely arrive on Yemen’s southern coast after a two- to three-day journey. The risks they have taken to get there are huge: smugglers pack more than 100 people onto boats made for 30; and passengers arrive with reports of brutal treatment.
Geneva/Paris/Khartoum/New York, March 5, 2009 – Sudanese authorities in Khartoum this morning demanded the immediate expulsion of a second section of the international medical humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) from Darfur.
The Government of Sudan has told Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) it must remove all international staff from a number of projects in West and South Darfur by Wednesday, March 4, 2009.
Nairobi/Khartoum/Amsterdam/New York, March 4, 2009 – The Government of Sudan today informed the Dutch section of the international medical humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) that they are expelled from Darfur. This follows a previous order issued March 2 for MSF to remove all international staff from a number of project sites in Darfur. The organization is outraged at the decision, which leaves more than 200,000 of its patients without essential medical care.
MSF is preparing to scale up its assistance to displaced people in camps in and around the city of Vavuniya, in Northern Province, Sri Lanka. MSF is already distributing food and basic relief items in 10 camps and plans to work in five more.
A landslide hit a displaced persons’ camp in Masisi town, North Kivu Province, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) on February 4, killing eight people. The majority of victims were young children; two were teenagers.
Since October 2008, following the latest fighting between armed groups in North Kivu province, Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) teams have been assisting refugees from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) at the Uganda border. At the Ishasha border crossing, the number of new arrivals has decreased significantly as the fighting in DRC eased.
Following heavy fighting in Muhajariya, South Darfur, on January 15, MSF temporarily relocated most of its medical team to Nyala, the regional capital, about 80 km (50 miles) away. The team learned that the MSF base in Muhajariya was completely destroyed by fire, however, the MSF clinic remains functional.
MSF medical teams began carrying out specialized surgical procedures today in inflatable structures put up by MSF late last week in Gaza City. The two hospital tents include operating theaters and a 12-bed, post-surgery recovery and post-operative care unit.
Civilians are fleeing to Uganda to escape the conflict in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Refugees in Matanda camp, which serves as a transitory camp, just over the border in Ishasha, say they are afraid to go back, fearing violence, massacres, and forced conscription into the military or armed groups. The little news they receive from relatives who remain there reinforces their belief that it is not safe to return.
More than three weeks after the Christmas attacks on the towns of Faradje and Doruma and three days after the invasion of Tora—all in the Haut Uélé district of eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)—Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) combatants are continuing their devastating assaults against civilians, and moving closer to the Dungu area.
Nairobi, January 13, 2009 — A new surge in fighting in the Galgaduud region of central Somalia has led to many casualties and forced thousands to flee. Following heavy fighting between two groups last Sunday, Somali medical teams of the international medical humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) have treated 46 casualties at Istarlin hospital in Guri El. This brings the total of wounded treated there since fighting broke out in the area more than two weeks ago to 86.
For the past several weeks Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) teams have been assessing the refugee situation at the border of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Uganda. According to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, more than 27,000 people have crossed the border with Uganda since the end of August. Monique Doux, Field Coordinator in Matanda Refugee camp, close to the border town of Ishasha, talks about the situation there.
For the past several weeks, MSF teams have been assessing the refugee situation at the border of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Uganda. An 11-person team (three doctors, four nurses and three logisticians) are now working in three different sites to offer assistance to the refugees.
Since early Monday, December 1, of a presumed 420 people who have arrived on Yemen’s shores after traveling through the Gulf of Aden from Somalia, Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has assisted 361.
Recent fighting in the area of Kanyabayonga has forced hundreds of people to flee and hampered humanitarian efforts. Some of the displaced people who were hiding in the forest have now started to slowly return to town. "Despite the perception of a relative calm, violence is continuing in several areas of North Kivu," says Gilduin Blanchard, MSF head of mission in Goma. "Thousands are currently on the run, forced to flee their homes again. This is happening right now, far from the media spotlight."
Every year, thousands of Somalis and Ethiopians risk their lives crossing the Gulf of Aden to Yemen. Hoping to escape the conflict and extreme poverty in their own countries, these desperate passengers are regularly abused and sometimes killed by the brutal smugglers they pay to get them across.
Teams continue to work at a hospital and health centers in Rutshuru and Kiwanja, where the situation is now stable. Activities in the hospital are becoming routine; on average, ten surgeries are now performed per day. There are a number of requests from health centers to transfer patients from Kinyandoni and Kibututu to the hospital in Rutshuru. Among these patients, there are several children affected by severe or moderate malnutrition.
He and his ten-year-old brother were in the forest in the Nyanzale area when fighting broke out. "We were caught right in the middle of heavy gunfire. We were really scared and had nowhere to run. We were literally caught between two groups shooting at each other. "
MSF remains very concerned about the many people still fleeing the ongoing violence. Many displaced and local residents are in urgent need of food, clean water, healthcare, and basic items such as blankets and shelter materials.
Annie Desilets is the project coordinator for Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) in Kitchanga in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s North Kivu province. She’s with a team of more than 160 MSF staff working 85 km – or four hours by road – north of provincial capital, Goma. There are two camps in the Kitchanga area. One has an estimated 25,000 displaced people, while the other has 18,000. And the numbers are growing. The medical teams are concerned about an increase in upper respiratory infections and cholera cases
In displaced persons camps in Kibati, just north of Goma in the North Kivu province of the Democratic Republic of Congo, scores of people are seeking refuge from recent fighting. Here are just a few of their stories.
November, 1, 2008, Awhar, Yemen --A team from Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) assisting refugees in the south of Yemen found 39 dead bodies on the shore between Friday, October 31 and Sunday, November 2.
In August, 200,000 people fled fighting in the tribal area of Bajaur Agency, in the northwestern region of the country. Fabien Schneider, head of mission for Doctors Without Borders Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) in Pakistan, describes the situation.
In Tbilisi, MSF emergency teams are providing medical aid to those who have fled the fighting among Russians, Ossetians, and Georgians in South Ossetia. They are chiefly offering medical attention to people in shelters, some of them very elderly.
An MSF emergency team based in Tbilisi has been able to gain access to the separatist province of South Ossetia and visit Tskhinvali hospital there. MSF, which already provides support to displaced people in Tbilisi, has offered to provide medical assistance in South Ossetia.
The conflict that began five years ago as a battle between Sudan’s government and two Darfuri rebel groups has developed into a far more complex disaster. While the large-scale, destructive attacks that marked the first few years of fighting are no longer frequent, Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) sees a different kind of emergency developing. Continue Reading »
One month ago, violence against foreign nationals in South Africa erupted in parts of Gauteng, Western Cape, and Kwa-Zulu Natal Province, leading to the displacement of more than 80,000 people across the country, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Initially, tens of thousands of people fled to police stations, community halls, churches, and mosques to seek shelter and safety. For three weeks, they lived in poor conditions and relied primarily on a patchwork of assistance from private individuals and organizations.
Chris Sauer, a fire chief in the Lake Tahoe area of California, has been on five assignments with MSF since 1998, most recently in Tawila in North Darfur. Sauer served as interim project coordinator from February to March 2008. Here, he describes his experience.
On Friday, May 23, a fire destroyed close to 60 percent of the houses in the Huai Nam Khao refugee camp in Petchabun province in northern Thailand. The blaze took hold after a week-long demonstration in the camp, which is home to nearly 8,000 Lao Hmong refugees, to protest the arrest of a community leader and the imminent threat of a forced return to Laos.
Nearly 8,000 ethnic Lao Hmong currently confined to a guarded, barbed-wire enclosed camp controlled by the Thai military in the village of Huai Nam Khao in Petchabun province in northern Thailand face the imminent threat of a forced return to Laos. Many of these refugees have told MSF, the sole nongovernmental organization working in the camp, of a life in Laos spent fleeing violent attacks and persecution, witnessing the murder of family members, suffering rape, surviving bullet and shrapnel wounds, and enduring malnutrition and disease.
Nairobi/Brussels, May 16, 2008 —Over the past week, aid workers for the international medical humanitarian organization, Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), have witnessed the forced return and resettlement of displaced people living in Endebess camp, western Kenya. Inhabitants of the camp are being threatened and told to leave, although many of them fear returning to their places of origin or have nowhere to go.
After Kenya disintegrated into violence following the country’s disputed presidential election, MSF teams were forced to switch gears from specialized care for chronic diseases to treating machete wounds and running mobile clinics.
In southern Sudan, thousands of families displaced by the recent armed conflict in the oil-rich region of Abyei are in need of emergency assistance. This is occurring in a region where resources are already extremely depleted.
On Wednesday, February 27, 2008, four ethnic Hmong families from the Huai Nam Khao refugee camp in Thailand were sent back to Laos. This confirmed fears expressed by Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) in October 2007 with respect to the Thai government’s plans to forcibly repatriate 8,000 Hmong before the end of 2008. The refugees are currently confined to this camp in northern Thailand’s Petchabun province and claim to have fled violence and persecution in Laos.
In February, bombings and attacks on villages in parts of West Darfur, Sudan, led to an influx of thousands of refugees into the Birak region of eastern Chad. MSF teams have been providing assistance by distributing essential relief items to the refugees and administering nutrient-fortified, ready-to-use foods (RUF) to prevent and treat malnutrition. As a new wave of refugees arrives in Birak from the Jebel Moon region in Darfur, MSF is distributing an additional round of relief items, setting up mobile medical clinics, and organizing a measles vaccination campaign alongside another distribution of RUF.
Stuck in a highly volatile security context, Sudanese refugees who have recently arrived just over the border in Birak, Chad, are in an extremely worrying situation. With ongoing combat a few kilometers away from their settlement, the lives of the refugees and those who remain in targeted areas in Darfur, are still at risk.
One week after the fighting ended, things are slowly getting back to normal in N'Djamena. The streets are starting to fill again, even if many shops in the town center remain closed. In the hospitals too, the worst of the crisis has passed. While a good number of people have returned to N'Djamena, thousands of families do not yet dare to go home, and continue to survive in precarious conditions across the border in Cameroon.
When fighting erupted between armed groups and government forces in the North Kivu province of Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in August 2007, it forced an estimated 10,000 Congolese to flee for safety over the border into Uganda. Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) helped set up a transit site in Nyakabanda, situated about 10 miles from the DRC border in Uganda’s Kisoro district. Nurse Laura Cobey arrived to be field coordinator for the MSF project in October, just as a renewed surge in fighting pushed another wave of Congolese to seek refuge in Nyakabanda. Cobey describes the quick opening of the site and conditions for the estimated 13,000 people who lived there until its December closing.
Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) continues to provide medical assistance to civilians affected by recent fighting in N'Djamena, Chad's capital city, as well as to refugees who have fled the combat to Cameroon, and displaced populations in the east of the country.
Every year, thousands of people risk their lives crossing the Gulf of Aden: Somalis fleeing the fighting in their country and Ethiopians leaving because they cannot find work back home, for political reasons, or because of the conflict in the Somali region. Conditions of the voyage are terrible and on almost every crossing people die. This year alone an estimated 28,000 people arrived at the along the coast of Yemen, with 651 confirmed dead and another 659 missing. The actual death toll is probably much higher.
Violence in the North Kivu province of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has intensified since August 2007, displacing hundreds of thousands of people and creating major obstacles for people to access health care. Jane Coyne, Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) head of mission in DRC, provides an update of situation in North Kivu, and explains the toll that lack of basic health care is taking on the people of this region.
Bangkok/Paris, October 31, 2007 - MSF calls on the Thai government to halt all forced repatriation proceedings against the 7,500 ethnic Hmong refugees from Laos who are currently confined to a camp in northern Thailand's Petchabun province. The refugees, who claim to have fled violence and persecution in Laos, are deeply fearful of being returned to their country.
The Rohingyas are a Muslim minority from the border region between Bangladesh and Rakhine State in western Myanmar (formerly Burma). Their accounts of life in Myanmar include severe human rights abuses: restrictions on movement and on marriage; forced labor; land and assets confiscation; violence and arbitrary arrest.
On April 17, 2007 MSF launched an emergency medical response in Afgooye, Lower Shabelle Region, about 30 kilometers west of Mogadishu. Due to insecurity in the area, MSF decided to dispatch a team of senior MSF Somali staff from Nairobi and the Dinsor Health Center to evaluate the needs of thousands of displaced people who poured into the town following major fighting in Mogadishu.
More than 7,000 Hmong refugees at the Huai Nam Khao camp in Phetchabun, Thailand, are in danger of being returned to Laos, where they fear political persecution for cooperating with the United States government during the US-Vietnam War. To this day, the Hmong continue to hide in the remote jungles of Laos, and thousands languish in squalid camps where conditions are crowded and epidemics are a constant threat.
In March and April 2007, heavy fighting in Mogadishu, Somalia, resulted in a large number of civilian casualties and thousands of people fleeing the capital. The following stories, gathered by MSF, come from people displaced from Mogadishu who arrived at MSF's hospital in South Galcayo in May.
New York, April 24, 2007 – In the last weeks, tens of thousands of displaced Somalis have fled Mogadishu following a resurgence of violence affecting the capital city of Somalia, already home to many displaced people. This recent spell of violence has put on roads entire columns of people attempting to move to safer areas of the country such as Lower Shabelle region, Hiiraan region, Galguduud region, and Bay region.
Although Hmong populations face unhealthy and near prison-like conditions at the Huai Nam Khao camp in Thailand, they are even more frightened by the prospect of being returned to Laos because they fear for their lives there. Emmanuel Drouhin, Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) program manager for Thailand, provides an update.
Philip Humphris is Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières' (MSF) head of mission for West Darfur state in Sudan. He has returned from western Darfur and, as the number of aid agencies in Darfur continues to decrease, explains what MSF is doing in this region.
Since November 2005, various rebel groups have appeared in the northwest region of the country, in the Ouham and Ouham Pendé prefectures. Since then, the civilian population has been subject to considerable abuse, beginning in the Paoua region, expanding to the area around Markounda and, more recently, in the Kabo region.
New York, September 6, 2006 — Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) today announced a major public education initiative to bring attention to the plight of refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) worldwide who have been forced to flee their homes to seek refuge from conflict or persecution.
Bunia/New York, July 21, 2006 – Since July 14, an emergency team from Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has been working in the town of Gety, located south of Bunia, the capital of Ituri District in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), to assist a population of 39,000 displaced people. Bringing aid to the displaced is particularly difficult as security conditions remain tenuous in the area and as the population has doubled during the past week, growing from 22,000 on July 14 to 39,000 today. However, assistance is crucial as the displaced families, exhausted by their journey, are gathered amidst dire sanitary conditions.
Over the last twelve months, more than 100,000 people have been displaced from their homes in the Democratic Republic of Congo's Katanga province as a result of fighting between the Congolese army, known as the FARDC, and the so-called Mai-Mai militia.
Some 35,000 people have sought refuge on the banks of lake Upemba in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), fleeing attacks on their villages and military operations in central Katanga province. Meanwhile, on January 6 an outbreak of cholera 30 miles north of lake Upemba, lead to 340 people being admitted for treatment in 10 days, including 14 deaths.
Brussels/Bujumbura, June 1, 2005 - Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is concerned about the unacceptable living conditions of Rwandan refugees regrouped in the Songore transit camp. This site, located in Burundi's northern province of Ngozi, 20 kilometers from the Rwandan border, does not have the capacity and is absolutely not suited to accommodate the refugees.
New York, 10 February 2005 - Since the end of January 2005, fighting between rebels groups in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s (DRC) Djugu region in the eastern Ituri province has displaced thousands of Congolese. A number of people have seen their homes destroyed, and sought refuge in the neighboring villages of Tche, north of Bunia, and Kawa, on the banks of Lake Albert.
Kinshasa/New York, 17 December 2004: The entire population of Kanyabayonga has fled fighting in the North Kivu region of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) as of Wednesday, December 15, 2004, with most of the nearly 35,000 people going towards Kayna and Kirumba dozens of miles to the north. The increased fighting has also forced a team from Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) to evacuate Kayna, where the group had been running a medical-nutritional program since January 2004. Since Sunday, the team had also set up emergency assistance (medical consultations and distribution of emergency items) to those fleeing Kanyabayonga.
By December 2004, 197 international volunteers and 2,582 national staff for Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) were providing emergency assistance in 27 locations in Darfur in areas with more than 600,000 displaced people.
New York, September 27, 2004 - Epidemiological surveys newly completed by Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) in South Darfur, Sudan, reveal that the overall level and quality of aid remains insufficient. In Kalma camp near Nyala, where an estimated 66,000 people fleeing violence have sought shelter and where MSF is treating 3,900 malnourished children, the survey found malnutrition and mortality rates well above emergency levels. MSF warns that without increased mobilization of aid to South Darfur, the health and nutritional situations in the region could deteriorate further.
The province of North Darfur, Sudan, is being affected by increasing violence and tension since late August. The immediate consequence has been the arrival of 2,000 displaced people to Zam Zam camp, south of El Fasher, over the last few days.
Twice a week, Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) volunteers travel to Deleig, a small village in the western part of the Darfur region of Sudan. As of late-July some 20,000 internally displaced people (IDPs) live there.
After surviving a severe campaign of massive repression, civilians throughout Darfur now face an emergency health crisis. In addition to treating malnutrition, Dr. Greg Elder, head of mission for MSF in Sudan explained MSF's medical response to infectious diseases and sexual violence.
New York/Ndjamena, May 11, 2004 - Hunger and disease are severely endangering the lives of tens of thousands of Sudanese refugees in Chad, according to the international medical aid organization Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) today. Malnutrition is rising, camps are overcrowded, food and water are scarce, and many people remain at risk from violent cross-border attacks by Sudanese militia. The refugees have fled extreme violence and massacres in the Darfur region of western Sudan, where a massive mobilization of humanitarian aid is also urgently needed.
Fuerteventura/New York, March 1, 2004 - Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) began an emergency intervention today seeking to provide humanitarian assistance to African immigrants arriving by boat on the island of Fuerteventura in the Canary Islands.
For the last year and a half, 32-year old Gabriel Trujillo has been the Head of Mission MSF programs in Moscow and the North Caucasus, managing programs for the nearly 150,000 displaced Chechens living in Ingushetia.
Last spring, the media showed brief interest in the fate of tens of thousands of refugees and displaced persons in this West African region. Since then, fighting in Liberia has uprooted even more people, creating internally displaced persons and sending others to neighboring countries. The measures taken to protect and assist these people do not meet their needs.
Doctors Without Borders is approved by the Internal Revenue Service as a 501 (C) (3) tax-exempt organization, and all donations are tax deductible to the extent provided by law. Doctors Without Borders Federal Identification Number (EIN) is 13-3433452.