Critical humanitarian situation throughout entire east of Democratic Republic of Congo

By Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF)
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Critical humanitarian situation throughout entire east of Democratic Republic of Congo

PARIS, France, November 30, 2012/African Press Organization (APO)/ -- An already fragile humanitarian situation in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo has deteriorated further after the border city of Goma fell to M23 rebels last week with hundreds of people injured and thousands displaced from their homes.

Teams from Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) have rapidly set up additional emergency response activities, treating victims of violence and providing assistance to newly displaced people in and around Goma.

Treating victims of violence

Since the end of last week, an MSF surgeon and anesthetist have stepped into Virunga hospital in Goma where 60 patients have been admitted with war injuries. They are performing around 10 surgical interventions per day. 11 people have been discharged already.

“Health structures in Goma were not prepared to receive such a high number of wounded” said MSF surgeonJacky Bonnan. “Before MSF came to Virunga hospital, the hospital's surgical team worked around the clock for 48 hours to stabilise patients despite a lack of resources. They did an amazing job.”

Although Goma is calm for the moment, elsewhere in the province fighting continues. Medical teams in Masisi general hospitaltreated 21 people shot on Sunday during fierce fighting in and around the town. 7 of those required emergency surgery.In Mwesohospital, doctors treated 27 war wounded after fightingbetween the Congolese army and various armed militias.

Donating medicines

Teams have been able to cross frontlines to donate medical supplies to the hospital in Minova as well as to 950 families scattered along the road.The hospital registered 26 cases of sexual violence and 200 wounded in the last 7 days.

Providing assistance to those who have fled the fighting

Displacement has been a feature of the conflict in eastern Congo for many years but numbers have now reached record levels with hundreds of thousands of people currently displaced. Several months ago MSF started to provide free healthcare to 50,000people who had fled fighting in their villages and spontaneously settled in Mugunga camps just outside Goma. Since the fall of the city, the number of displaced people in these camps has sharply increased with around 45,000 new arrivals. MSF increased its intervention and is currently supporting two health centers with more than 200 free medical consultations per day. Teams are also constructing more than 30 latrines and showers in one camp.

“The most vulnerable are in an increasingly precarious situation” said Grace Tang, MSF's Head of Mission in North Kivu. “The fighting that has plagued this region for decades has not stopped – people cannot return home, they are being displaced from one place to another.”

Maintaining medical activities throughout eastern DRC

Despite the recent developments, MSF continues to run several large reference hospitals and dozens of health centres that provide free healthcare to thousands every month throughout the region inRutshuru, Masisi, Mweso,Kitchanga, Walikale, Mugungadisplaced camps, Kanyaruchinya and Pinga.