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News for the Week of May 18, 1999
May 18, 1999
Aid Fails Refugees Outside Camps in Albania
In a report issued on May 18, MSF found that Kosovar refugees in northern Albania are not receiving adequate international aid because they are housed with host families. They are fast running out of money to pay for food and shelter and have no access to basic medical care. "What is often overlooked is that only 10%-15% of the Kosovar refugees in Kukes are sheltered in tented camps," says William Perea, MSF epidemiologist who led the survey. "They are much more difficult to access than refugees in camps, and as a result do not get the protection and assistance to which they are entitled as refugees." None of the households interviewed had a registration card or any other document identifying them as refugees. Until all refugees are registered properly, distribution of aid and protection cannot be ensured. "That the majority of refugees are falling through the net is scandalous at a time when Albania is receiving unprecedented humanitarian, political, and media attention," says Perea. "The UNHCR must register and protect these refugees as a matter of absolute priority."
Instability in Congo
At least five bombs were dropped on Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo, in a surprise attack on the evening of May 11. One bomb hit a target two houses away from the MSF office. Family members of an MSF local staff member were killed and the MSF house sustained minor damage. Teams working in Goma and elsewhere in northern Kivu province remain on alert. MSF Head of Mission Jules Albers reports that the situation in Goma remains tense. MSF has four international staff based in Goma who are assessing the needs of the population in Kivu. In addition, MSF has provided drugs to certain health centers in southern Kivu and carried out water and sanitation activities. In Uvira, MSF is working with a local non-governmental organization assisting with drugs and medical equipment for the local health centers. A nutritional survey has been carried out in Kisangani, and MSF is currently assessing the possibility of a nutritional program there.