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News for the Week of September 21, 1998
September 21, 1998
Situation Worsens In Kosovo
MSF is increasingly concerned about the campaign of terror and forced displacement currently facing the population of the Serbian province of Kosovo. Systematic destruction of villages by Serbian forces is preventing Kosovars from returning to their homes. MSF is operating mobile medical relief teams throughout Kosovo to provide basic medical care to the displaced populations hiding in the mountains and forests and emergency care to those injured by the shelling. As winter approaches, MSF is extremely worried about the lack of progress toe end the fighting and about the growing need for medical care and shelter for 250,000 displaced ethnic Albanians in Kosovo.
Sudan Famine Relief Efforts Enhanced
MSF teams continue their efforts to battle the famine ravaging southern Sudan. New supplies and personnel and improved water and sanitation systems are allowing us to increase the admission criteria for severely malnutritioned children entering our 15 feeding centers in southern Sudan. In addition, MSF is actively seeking ways to decrease the numbers of defaulters -those admitted to feeding centers who are unable to complete the therapeutic or supplementary feeding programs for a variety of reasons, such as the distances of centers from their homes. Mortality rates remain unacceptably high and, despite the current relief measures, in recent weeks, for every 10,000 people under surveillance, an average of 4 to 12 people are still dying every day in south Sudan.
Bangladesh Flood Relief Efforts Expanded
MSF is increasing its activities in the flooded areas of Bangladesh. A doctor, nurse, and logistician arrived this past week to reinforce the teams already in place. Working in collaboration with local doctors and nurses, MSF is providing medical care in five crisis centers north of the capital, Dhaka. Measures are being taken to prevent diarrhea and measles. Although falling water levels in the Siraghanj district have made it more difficult to reach flood victims by MSF boats, oral rehydration points have been set up on embankments where 15,000 people are currently living.
New AIDS Information Line in Cuba Successful
A call-in AIDS "hotline" started by MSF became operational in Havana, Cuba on September 1 and is already receiving approximately 45 calls per day. Callers have sought information about AIDS and other STDs as well as undesired intimacies at work and sexual violence in the home. Two MSF psychologists have trained 15 volunteers to answer telephone queries. Various Cuban media outlets have publicized the phone number and calls have come in from all over the country. Plans are underway to extend the service to the evening hours to accommodate more callers. The AIDS information line is part of a larger AIDS information and coordination center and awareness campaign that MSF is launching in Cuba.
Teams Return to Work in Afghanistan
The first MSF international volunteers are returning to work in Afghanistan after having been evacuated for security reasons in August. Teams are returning to projects in Kandahar and Herat, where according to local staff, the situation is peaceful. "We're raring to get back to our field work," says medical coordinator Helen O'Neill. Since the evacuation, MSF projects in Afghanistan have been operated by local personnel and local partner organizations.