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May 24, 2011
This article is part of the Spring 2011 issue of the MSF Alert newsletter.
Liberia 2011 © Gaël Turine/VU
After hiding out in the forest for two weeks, this family from the Ivory Coast crossed the river that separates their troubled homeland from Liberia’s Nimba County, then paused before resuming a journey they hope leads to safety. Ivory Coast has been convulsed by months of post-election strife that has forced hundreds of thousands of people to seek sanctuary elsewhere.
Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has been supporting a Ministry of Health hospital in Abidjan, which is plagued by violence and shortages of medicines and other supplies, and in a number of areas throughout the country where people displaced by fighting have settled temporarily. Many cannot reach the care they need, however. “It is critical for patients to have access to health facilities,” said Mego Terzian, MSF emergency coordinator. “MSF medical teams, who strictly adhere to the principles of impartiality and neutrality, must be able to care for patients, regardless of their affiliation.”
In Liberia, MSF teams are supporting health centers close to the border with Ivory Coast and operating mobile clinics and a medical facility in the Bahn refugee camp. As of early March, some 70,000 Ivorian refugees had been registered in Nimba County. “People are afraid and do not speak of returning,” said Helga Ritter, MSF coordinator in Liberia. “And they fear for those who have remained in Ivory Coast.”