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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.

Following a directive from the government of Sri Lanka earlier this week, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) withdrew its staff today from Kilinochchi town in the LTTE-controlled Vanni. MSF is very concerned about the possible consequences of ongoing hostilities for the population still living in the area, and the impact of displacement on the health of the population. MSF urges both parties to the conflict to ensure that all possible measures are taken to protect civilians from the impact of the conflict, and to allow assistance to resume as soon as possible.

Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is very concerned for the safety of an estimated 250,000 people trapped in heavy fighting in the Vanni district of Sri Lanka. Hundreds of civilians are reported to have been wounded and killed during the last days as the area controlled by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) has shrunk in the face of the government of Sri Lanka’s military offensive. MSF has received reports from the Vanni area that the plight of the civilians is dire. Hospitals are coping to the best of their ability, but are running low on drugs and medical staff.

On Jan. 29, 226 sick and wounded civilians, 51 of them children, were evacuated by the International Committee of the Red Cross and the UN from the Vanni district of Sri Lanka. Delays at the government checkpoint in Omanthai meant that patients were arriving throughout the evening and night and into the very early morning in Vavuniya Hospital. Some were newly wounded during the recent fighting, while others were suffering from festering wounds up to two or three weeks old.  In the fighting many patients lost limbs due to shrapnel and shells.

Wounded, shocked and distressed. After having fled heavy fighting in the Vanni area of Sri Lanka, people arriving in Vavuniya hospital need both medical care and counselling. Working with Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), mental health worker Karen Stewart hears their stories and shares them here. People arrive here in a state of extreme anxiety and fear. They have been separated from their families and often have no news about their fate. Young children and the elderly travelling with their caretakers claim they were separated at a checkpoint.

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