Congo: MSF supports rape survivors but is denied access to conflict zones

The renewed fighting between government troops and rebel militia in the Pool region in the southeast prompted MSF to send a team to Kinkala to evaluate and respond to the needs of a large group of people displaced by the fighting. MSF helped reestablish the local medical team after finding a hospital with no patients, no equipment and no medical staff. As of summer 2002, MSF's repeated requests for access to areas in greater difficulty were still being denied.

In spring 2002, a legal component was added to MSF medical work in treating and supporting victims of sexual violence at Makelekele hospital in Brazzaville. MSF now advises women from the time they file a complaint through to the end of the legal process.

By mid-2002, the MSF sleeping sickness project in the Gamboma region had screened nearly 26,000 patients since its start a year earlier. Out of the approximately 950 people who tested positive, 900 have been treated. MSF works closely with the country's national sleeping sickness program on staff training as well as direct treatment.

In late 2001 and early 2002, MSF withdrew from clinics in Mindouli, Sibiti and Njoundou as the needs in those areas changed. Activities in Bétou continued, with hospital
capacity expanded to cover emergency surgery, outpatient consultations, and mother-and-child care.

From January to March 2002, MSF helped to contain an outbreak of Ebola in Mbomo and Kéllé in the northwest (see page 27). It also helped with basic health care and measles vaccinations for internally displaced people in Brazzaville following renewed fighting in some parts of the town in mid-June 2002.

MSF first worked in Congo in 1997.

International staff: 47
National staff: 253