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September 26, 2016

Pat Gould and Kim Letson are not ones to shy away from a challenge, and this fall they’ve decided to take on yet another. From September to October, the two friends from the Comox Valley in British Columbia will be walking through three countries along the 1,000-kilometre Via Egnatia route in southeastern Europe to raise funds for Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF)’s annual Walk Without Borders challenge.

May 05, 2016

Last year, 75 hospitals managed or supported by international medical organization Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) were bombed. This was in violation of the most fundamental rules of war which gives protected status to medical facilities and its patients, regardless if the patients are civilians or wounded combatants. Beyond the hospitals, civilians are being wounded and killed by indiscriminate warfare in Syria, Yemen, South Sudan, Afghanistan and elsewhere. At the same time, the treatment of refugees and migrants in Europe and beyond has shown a shocking lack of humanity. A humanitarian summit, at which states, UN agencies and non-governmental organisations come together to discuss these urgent issues, has never been more needed. So the World Humanitarian Summit (WHS) this month could have been a perfect opportunity.

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.

Staff working with local aid groups

Health system responding to medical needs

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