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News for the Week of July 7, 1998
July 7, 1998
MSF Fights Famine in Southern Sudan: Washington Post Reports
The Washington Post in a July 7, 1998, cover story reports that the famine in southern Sudan is worsening, and relief efforts are insufficient to overcome the overwhelming food shortage facing the population. The article reports on MSF's efforts to operate therapeutic (intensive-care) and supplementary feeding centers for malnourished children throughout the Bahr el Ghazal and Upper Western Nile provinces. But, according to the MSF teams, the food relief supply doesn't come close to meeting the needs of the entire population. The Post reports, "The emaciated crowds outside the MSF compound testify to the inadequacy of the airlift to date." The famine in southern Sudan, which is estimated to threaten 1.2 million people, has emerged from a variety of factors including an ongoing civil war, population displacement, and a poor harvest resulting from El Nino climatic patterns.
Kosovo Violence Creates Refugees, Internally Displaced
MSF teams are working inside Kosovo in the areas most affected by current fighting and with refugees who have fled the recent fighting into Albania. In Kosovo, MSF's mobile teams have distributed large quantities of drugs to local health centers. They are also conducting medical consultations in the Drenica region and have treated some mine-injured patients who tried to cross the Albanian border. The organization continues to monitor the water and sanitation system (a project that pre-dated the recent violence) and is seeking to assist the thousands of internally displaced persons who have taken shelter in private homes. On the Albanian side of the border, where upwards of 9,000 refugees have been registered by the United Nations High Commissioner on Refugees, the organization has installed a reception point for refugees and is working with other local organizations and authorities to respond to the needs of the population. There are reports that thousands of others are waiting to cross the border, but have been unable to do so due to sniper fire and mines.
MSF Ships Massive Aid Charter to Guinea-Bissau
Living conditions have been deteriorating rapidly since fighting broke out in Guinea Bissau, an extremely poor West African country located between Senegal and Guinea, according to MSF teams working there. On June 29, 1998, the organization sent a full charter of 30.5 metric tons of medicine and medical and logistical material to Guinea Bissau via Banjul, the capital of Gambia, from where it is being transported by a humanitarian convoy. Between 200,000 and 300,000 people have fled Bissau City since June 7, when a conflict broke out between troops loyal to president Joao Bernardo Vieira and insurgents. The displaced people have congregated in cities along the main roads, and a rapid deterioration of their condition is feared. The MSF shipment includes, among other things, an ambulance, surgical and emergency medical material, vaccination kits, rehydration solution in case of cholera outbreaks, drinkable water, and high-protein biscuits.