Kisangani population still living under continuous threat

Press release: Kisangani, 15 June 2000 - The international humanitarian medical organisation Medecins sans Frontieres (MSF) is extremely concerned about the humanitarian situation in the East Congoleze city of Kisangani. The civilian population has suffered considerable losses and continues to live under serious threat. MSF stresses that the on-going crisis situation in the region of the Great Lakes requires an immediate political solution ensuring protection of the population. Humanitarian assistance alone can not be considered a solution and must not be used as a blanket to cover up a lack of political action. In addition, MSF calls upon the warring parties to respect international humanitarian law and protect the civilian population. Although the cease-fire which came into effect last Sunday is still respected, the civilian population continues to live under threat. Dr. Eric Dachy in Kisangani reports: Ã?³The population is still paralysed with fear. At the moment the town is quiet but there is still heavy military presence. The fighting may flare up again at any time, which would result in more civilians being displaced, wounded or killed." The humanitarian needs in Kisangani remain high. At this moment the biggest threat to the population is the tremendous amount of live and unexploded ammunition which is spread all over the city. On the first day of the cease-fire three children were killed when they picked up an unexploded grenade. No initiative has been taken by any side to clean up the city. An initial assessment indicates that the nutritional status of the population is very poor. There is some food available on the local market but it is sold at very high prices. The water supply to the city was resumed last Tuesday, but the water is of poor quality. The water table in the wells and springs is very low and with an increased number of displaced using the wells and springs, this situation may deteriorate quickly, increasing the risk for a cholera outbreak. Cholera is endemic in the region and the first three cases have been identified by the team in Kisangani. MSF resumed its assistance to the civilians in Kisangani on Sunday 11 June, after being confined for 6 days in their safe room due to heavy fighting and indiscriminate firing. The teams are focusing their assistance on cholera prevention and treatment, nutrition and on basic health care. MSF is distributing medical supplies from its existing stocks to hospitals and health centres to help take care of the wounded. Over the coming days several freight planes with medical supplies and food are expected to arrive in Kisangani to support the relief efforts.