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Short-term emergencies and long-term trauma
Although Serbia is now benefiting from more financial aid and debt cancellation in return for greater cooperation with the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal, the economy is far from recovery and over half the population lives either on or below the poverty threshold.
Some 30,000 out of the 700,000 refugees and internally displaced people in Yugoslavia live in very poor conditions in collective centers. MSF has been helping the most vulnerable such families in Pcinja district to find private accommodation and access social services.
In April 2002, MSF provided emergency disinfectants and hygiene kits for some 1,500 households in Petrovac following flooding in Pomoravlje county. An earthquake in southern Kosovo in the same month also led to emergency intervention. The MSF team paid special attention to the mental health of quake victims already suffering from war-related trauma. This resulted in a booklet aimed at relieving stress related to the aftermath of the earthquake and preparing people mentally for new tremors and/or quakes.
Mental health among Kosovars was also the focus of a program running from June 1999 to February 2002 in PejÃ«/Pec. This provided consultations for people suffering from post-traumatic stress in villages badly affected by war. Attendees were mainly children, teenagers and women -- with cultural barriers preventing female rape victims and men in general from seeking help.
MSF has worked in Yugoslavia since 1991 and in Kosovo since 1993.