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June 03, 2016

Following an outbreak of yellow fever in Angola this past December and the subsequent confirmation of dozens of cases in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) teams are providing support in both countries to help contain the spread of the disease.

MSF calls for health groups to get more involved

Zoe grew up and was educated in London and has worked both in the UK and abroad for a number of humanitarian organisations including Oxfam, Interact, and Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF). She is a water and sanitation expert with significant field experience in Rwanda, Kenya, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan and Angola. In 2005, Zoe worked in Uige, Angola following an outbreak of deadly Marburg disease, which is a haemorrhagic fever similar to Ebola.

The international medical humanitarian organization Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) denounces the pervasive and systematic use of rape and violence committed by the Angolan army during the expulsions of Congolese migrants working in diamond mines in the Angolan province of Lunda Norte. MSF teams arrived in Western Kasai — a Congolese province bordering Angola — in October 2007 and are providing care there to victims of sexual violence. They have also collected 100 testimonies exposing collective rape and physical abuse widely perpetrated by the Angolan military.

Since May 26, more than 30,000 Congolese expelled from Angola have crossed the border at Kahungula, Bandundu province, in the southwest of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). In response to an alert sounded by the Congolese authorities, MSF went to the area to provide healthcare and to assess the situation of the expelled people. MSF offered medical assistance to the 600 to 700 Congolese being expelled daily and collected their testimonies.

MSF program manager Filipe Ribero has conducted several evaluations at sites where displaced persons are living in Tbilisi and Gori.  In the field, there is a sharp contrast between a massive influx of international aid and limited opportunities — for now — to provide assistance. What is the current situation in Georgia?

Fighting has calmed in and around the breakaway region of South Ossetia, and the warring parties have reached a ceasefire agreement. The short, violent conflict has displaced a lot of people in Georgia, South Ossetia and the Northern Caucasus region of Russia. As of 20 August, MSF is still unable to access South Ossetia, the area where the conflict had broken out, in order to conduct an independent needs assessment and provide medical and humanitarian aid to the population if necessary.

An MSF emergency team based in Tbilisi has been able to gain access to the separatist province of South Ossetia and visit Tskhinvali Hospital. MSF, which already provides support to displaced people in Tbilisi, has offered to provide medical assistance in South Ossetia. On August 23 an MSF team was able to gain access to Tskhinvali in Southern Ossetia, visiting the republican hospital in this city where intense fighting broke out on August 7. The situation has been slowly returning to normal in the aftermath of the peace accord signed by Russia and Georgia.

In Tbilisi, MSF emergency teams are providing medical aid to those who have fled the fighting among Russians, Ossetians, and Georgians in South Ossetia. They are chiefly offering medical attention to people in shelters, some of them very elderly. Kalistine G. is having a hard time getting used to her new surroundings. This 82-year-old native of Georgia has been in Tbilisi for several days, where she has found refuge in an abandoned building that used to house the former Finance Ministry.

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