March 29, 1999
Last Team Evacuates from Kosovo
After a tense weekend in Pristina, the three remaining members of the MSF team in Kosovo have evacuated to Belgrade. The team had hoped to remain in Kosovo as long as possible in order to treat the injured. "We were pretty scared during the attacks last Wednesday night, but as long as they are aimed at military targets we are doing okay here," reported head of mission Tim Boucher from Pristina the morning after the first wave of NATO air raids on Yugoslavia. According to Boucher, Pristina became a ghost town right before the first air attacks. "The shops shut at about 4 p.m., after which there was hardly anyone on the street: everybody stayed inside. We heard the first bangs and saw light flashes around 8 p.m., but it was all outside the city." Over the weekend, however, stepped-up NATO bombing raids and increased fighting in Pristina made the chance of any further humanitarian aid activity impossible and the remaining MSF team members decided to evacuate. Eight MSF team members had already left Kosovo for Skopje, Macedonia, last week. As more and more Albanians flee the fighting in Kosovo for neighboring countries, MSF teams in Macedonia, Albania, and Montenegro are working with other international and local humanitarian aid agencies to answer the growing refugee crisis.
Hurricane Mitch Follow-Up Program Opens in Nicaragua
MSF has started a post-emergency program in eastern Nicaragua. Last fall, flood waters caused by Hurricane Mitch destroyed homes, health clinics, crops, and water facilities in the area around the Rio Coco river where the Meskito and Mayanga Indians live. An MSF team is concentrating on repairing and improving the water and sanitation facilities in the region. The team's goal is to ensure that at least every five households have a properly-functioning latrine and each 300 inhabitants have access to a well with clean drinking water. The population of the Rio Coco valley is approximately 35,000. The team is also training community health workers, supplying them with necessary medicines, carrying out a nutritional survey, and preparing for any future outbreaks of epidemics or natural disasters in the region. MSF previously worked in this region from 1988 to 1992 with Meskito refugees returning to Nicaragua from Honduras after the civil war.
Meningitis Vaccination Campaign in Guinea Bissau
MSF is carrying out a large-scale vaccination campaign in regions of Guinea Bissau hard hit by a meningitis epidemic. Since the epidemic was first identified in early December of 1998, 776 cases of the disease and 137 deaths have been reported. Working together with local ministry of health officials, MSF volunteers and local staff members have vaccinated nearly 200,000 people against meningitis in Bissora, Mansoa, and other regions of Guinea Bissau affected by the epidemic. MSF has a supply of 53,000 vaccines ready for additional vacinnations and will be sending in 200,000 more from stocks in Senegal.
Musica Sin Fronteras
On April 10, 1999, a variety of Latin American musicians will be staging a benefit concert in New York City for MSF programs in Central America working in the aftermath of Hurricane Mitch. For a line-up of artists and details on how to get tickets to the show, click Musica Sin Fronteras.
© 2013 Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF)