MSF Mobile Teams Alarmed by Health Situation in Central Kosovo

Brussels/New York, August 6, 1998 — On Tuesday, August 4, a Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) mobile team went to meet populations who fled to the hills surrounding Nekovce, central Kosovo. Several thousand people are hiding in extremely difficult conditions. During the day temperatures rise up to 100°F, and without shelter and very little food or drinking water, MSF fears that this situation could become fatal to the most vulnerable group-the children.

Keith Ursel, MSF coordinator of the mobile clinic program in Kosovo, explains: "Generally, these people are 'double displaced.' It is the second or third time they've had to flee the fighting in their region. Over the last couple of days, most of them have walked 9 to 13 miles to reach safety. We were able to leave behind baby food, plastic sheeting for the construction of shelters, chlorine to disinfect the water, cans to hold water, and soap. Still more is needed, especially food. We also fear that the exposure to the sun, combined with dehydration and diarrhea, could become fatal to some of these people, especially the children."

Every day two mobile teams criss-cross Kosovo, with local medics, in search of accessible locations to set up mobile clinics. Patients are mainly being treated for diarrhoea, respiratory and skin infections, and also for problems caused by stress (such as headaches and gastro-intestinal problems). Up to 350 consultations can be carried out per day. Frequently, however, the mobile teams have difficult or no access due to the fighting or because they are stopped at roadblocks.

MSF is accepting donations for the Kosovo relief effort. Donors may call toll-free at 888-392-0392, or write MSF, 6 East 39th Street, New York, NY 10016.

MSF is the world's largest independent emergency medical relief organization, providing aid to victims of armed conflict, natural and man-made disasters, and epidemic diseases.