May 18, 1998
Atrocities Against Civilians in Sierra Leone
Since April 6, 1998, an MSF surgical team working in Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone, has treated 138 patients suffering from severe mutilations. The victims, including children, have arrived at the hospital with limbs and ears cut off. Attacks on civilians have occurred as fighting radiates to the north, east, and west of the country in the aftermath of the February ousting of coup leaders from the capital. Newspaper reports indicate that more than 130 bodies of civilians, including women and children, have been found in Koindu, in eastern Sierra Leone bordering Guinea and Liberia. Refugees arriving in Guinea have also reported numerous incidences of rape and torture, and say that many victims of the violence are still missing. Doctors Without Borders is concerned that the civilian population of rural Sierra Leone is without protection and vulnerable to further attacks.
Refugees Pour Into Guinea and Liberia
According to various estimates, there are now more than 500,000 refugees from Sierra Leone in neighboring countries. Since the beginning of May, more than 50,000 victims of rebel fighting have poured into Guinea, bringing the total number of Sierra Leonean refugees in Guinea to 150,000. Doctors Without Borders teams are working in eight refugee camps there providing basic medical care, implementing vaccination campaigns, and installing water and sanitation systems.
Food Crisis in South Sudan Continues
In April 1998, Doctors Without Borders established 7 feeding centers and 13 primary health care programs in Bahr El Ghazal, in southern Sudan. About 350,000 people are currently at risk for malnutrition in the region, including 120,000 people displaced by recent fighting who are unable to harvest their crops. The entire population is suffering from the effects of last year's poor harvest, drought, and years of war. The 25 Doctors Without Borders volunteers in southern Sudan work in close cooperation with 400 local staff members providing food, primary health care and seeds for crops to the local population.
"Only Love" For Doctors Without Borders Volunteers
Evan Lee, M.D., and Myriam Pineau, two Doctors Without volunteers who met while working in Kenya and later married, were the subject of a CBS news segment produced in conjunction with the airing of "Only Love" a television mini-series. The drama, which is based on a novel by Erich Segal, of Love Story fame, is about two young doctors who fall in love while on a medical aid mission in Africa. Evan, an internist, and Myriam, a nurse, described their mission in a brief news spot that aired on local CBS affiliate stations nationwide on May 10 and 11. The couple met while working in a Somalian refugee camp where Myriam headed a supplementary feeding center and Evan implemented a tuberculosis program.
Voices of Our Volunteers
Lizz Frost, an American volunteer from Morgantown, West Virginia, is working in the remote province of Karakalpakstan in northern Uzbekistan. Lizz is based in Nukus (pop. 180,000), the capital of the province. The population of Uzbekistan is suffering from both economic and health problems due to the environmental destruction of the Aral Sea. In a letter from the field, Lizz describes the situation she found during her initial assessment:
Lizz has been developing a program in Nukus to improve maternal/child healthcare. Other Doctors Without Borders volunteers are setting up a tuberculosis project to combat the skyrocketing rates of TB in the region.
© 2013 Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF)