News for the Week of August 7, 1998
August 7, 1998
Nairobi Bombing: MSF Joins Emergency Effort
When a bomb went off in the five-story American Embassy building in Nairobi, Kenya, on the morning of August 7, 1998, MSF teams reported immediately to area hospitals to help handle the huge influx of wounded civilians. Fifteen MSF doctors and nurses responded within half an hour following a Government request for urgent help. Some of these medical professionals were based in Nairobi, and others had stopped in Nairobi on their way to missions in Burundi and Sudan. An MSF eyewitness to the bombing reported a deafening sound and giant black cloud, followed by chaos. "People driving in cars stopped suddenly to take the injured to the hospitals," she said.
Famine Spreads in Southern Sudan
Every day, 120 people are dying out of a population of 17,500 in and around the town of Ajiep in the Bahr el Ghazal province of southern Sudan, according to an MSF survey.
From July 13 to July 23, the global mortality rate for adults quadrupled to over 69 deaths per 10,000 people per day, and multiplied ten-fold for children under five to 133 deaths per 10,000 children per day.
MSF is operating supplementary feeding centers for thousands of malnourished persons in seven areas of Bahr El Ghazal. And additional four therapeutic (or intensive care) feeding centers have been opened for severely malnourished children. In the therapeutic feeding centers, children receive seven feedings of a special formula each day.
MSF has 91 international staff working on the relief effort for southern Sudan. In addition this emergency program, MSF runs programs to treat kala azar (visceral leischmaniasis), Guinea worm, and river blindness in southern Sudan.
Expulsion from Kabul, Afghanistan
On July 21, 1998, the MSF team was expelled from Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan, where it has been providing medical services for a population of 250,000 for the past 8 years.
The expulsion follows an order by local authorities, given on July 14, that MSF and other non-governmental organizations either must move their operations to an unequipped facility far from their target population or leave the city. In addition, our local female medical staff were told that they must stop working or be considered illegal workers. Until this ultimatum, MSF had been working in two hospitals and four clinics in Kabul. The organization refused to move to the designated facility, which would only isolate foreign workers and take them away from the population they serve.
Despite intense negotiations with local authorities, our Kabul office was sealed shut. MSF is still permitted to work elsewhere in Afghanistan. The expulsion leaves many patients without access to medical care. Since 1991, MSF has been a critical is a critical source of care for the population in Kabul, as well as in other parts of Afghanistan. At the moment, negotiations continue at the local and United Nationals levels to restore the Kabul team and its access to the Afghan population.