July 10, 2003
There has been renewed fighting between government troops and rebels since early this weekin and around Burundi's capital, Bujumbura, with mortar attacks and sporadic street fighting. Thousands of civilians have fled the southern periphery of the city, mainly from Musaga, Kanyosha and Kinindo, because of the violence. Many found shelter with relatives, but a good number of people had no place to go and have sought shelter in two camps where Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is providing assistance.
One camp near the fighting, between Kinindo and Musaga on the southern outskirts, hosts nearly 700 displaced people, mainly women and children. Two nurses and a doctor from MSF were able to provide basic medical care, distribute BP5 biscuits (fortified food) and blankets today for the first time since fighting broke out. MSF is providing medical care at another camp with 1,900 displaced families in the city center where other organizations are responsible for water, food and sanitation.
"On Wednesday, we put up a small emergency dispensary for the displaced people in this camp," explains Véronique Parqué, MSF head of mission in Burundi. "The same evening we saw 200 patients. The health post consists of five tents in which we offer medical care. The main health problems of the displaced are diarrhoea, respiratory infections, head aches."
Since fighting began, more than 220 war-wounded people have been hospitalised. MSF continues working in its center for the treatment of war-wounded in a northern suburb of Bujumbura. There were 28 admissions during the first day of the new fighting alone. Twenty of these patients were transferred to the city hospitals, although transporting patients to the hospitals is problematic because of the insecurity and fighting. Currently there are some 46 wounded people in the MSF center.
"It is difficult to give an exact number of casualties thus far but it seems to be rather high," continues Véronique Parqué. "Because of the huge insecurity in the city, it is even impossible to take the corpses of the streets. Luckily it's the dry season, because this decreases the risk of certain epidemics, such as cholera."
© 2013 Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF)