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MSF Assists Mongolian Herders Hit Hard by Winter
April 18, 2001
Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is providing humanitarian aid to approximately 30,000 people in the province of Bayan Ulgiy, Mongolia, after one quarter of their livestock perished in what the Mongolians call dzud, an exceptionally cold and dry winter. The death of the livestock means not only a lack of food but also a lack of transportation for local primary healthcare providers who rely on horses to travel to patients over rough terrain.
MSF has provided 33 horses to health care workers who lost their animals to the harsh winter. MSF is also supplying the local health system with medicines and medical supplies. In addition, MSF is carrying out food distribution to more than 4,200 of the poorest families in five districtsthe province.
MSF's medical coordinator in Bayan Ulgiy, Karen Kasan, points out that since this is the second year in a row the region has faced tough weather conditions, the population will suffer the consequences for years to come.
"Although the weather is now slowly improving, the herders who have lost almost all their cattle will continue to experience very difficult times," she said.
Kasan added that the large number of deaths among newborn animals means a big decrease in meat and milk production. "A big part of the staple diet is meat, milk and milk products. The effect of two consecutive years of dzud are beginning to show."
MSF has been in Mongolia since 1999, working on an HIV/AIDS prevention program.