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Burundi: Thousands Displaced, Nutritional Situation Deteriorating
March 8, 2001
With fighting to the northeast of Bujumbura displacing over 50,000 people, wounded civilians continue to be referred to health facilities in Burundi's capital.
In the northern suburb of Kemenge, Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is running a therapeutic feeding center, a center for first aid, two health posts, and has set up a cholera treatment center to ensure isolation and treatment of any suspected cases. An MSF surgical team is assisting with first aid and supporting medical personnel at a local hospital. MSF has also donated medications and medical supplies to the Ministry of Health.
MSF continues to run feeding centers in northern Burundi to accommodate the country's growing number of malnourished children. MSF is running five therapeutic feeding centers in Karusi province and plans to open a sixth later this week. In late February, MSF opened a therapeutic feeding center in Burundi's Ngozi province which has already admitted approximately 120 children.
"It's an alarming nutritional situation, the feeding centers are full of children in a very poor state," said Randa Hassan, MSF program officer. "We are even seeing adults who are severely malnourished - some mothers are unable to breast feed."
MSF has increased the number of supplementary feeding centers from four to ten over the past year and at present, 22,000 children are benefiting from the programs.
The nutritional situation in the north of the country has worsened as Burundi's economy and social structures continue to decline, strongly affecting the northern provinces of Karusi, Ngozi, Kayanza, Muhinga and Kurindo. Displacement and regroupment of local populations and years of droughts followed by floods have further aggravated the situation.
In addition to malnutrition, an unprecedented malaria epidemic has affected the country since November 2000 and more than 3 million cases have been reported nationwide.
As malaria also hampers sufferers' capacity to work in the fields, the epidemic may have a direct impact on the malnutrition situation in Burundi.
MSF has been present in Burundi since 1992, providing basic health care, nutrition programs, surgical services and epidemiological intervention in an effort to help the traumatized population.