MSF assists flood victims in the Siberian region of Yakutsk, Russia

Press release: Moscow, May 24, 2001 - The international medical aid organisation Médecins sans Frontières (MSF) today began distributing donated supplies to the flood victims in the Eastern Siberian town of Lensk. Responding to an invitation from local authorities, an MSF team from Moscow, including a doctor and a logistician, arrived in the affected region on Tuesday morning to assess the basic, immediate needs of the population. The next day a 1.4 ton cargo of medicines, medical materials, blankets and warm coats were sent to Lensk via the city of Mirny. More than 17,000 residents lost their homes in Lensk and 16 surrounding villages when ice jams caused the Lena river to overflow last weekend. Some were evacuated to Mirny, and thousands have taken refuge in host families. Those in the most precarious situation - totalling 5,524 - are currently sheltered in eight collective centers: five in the town of Lensk, one in the outskirts, and two in the villages of Saldykel and Natora. Though food and water provisions are covered, there is no electricity or heating in the collective centers, humidity is high, and temperatures at night drop below 0 C. For the next weeks, MSF plans to focus its assistance on these vulnerable persons. It will supply local doctors and community health workers offering consultations in the collective centers with basic drugs and medical materials which they lack and continue to distribute relief items to help prevent disease.
Médecins Sans Frontières provides assistance to the victims of natural disasters, armed conflicts, epidemics, and social marginalization in more than 80 countries worldwide. In the Russian Federation, where MSF has been active for the past 10 years, it runs programs to assist the homeless in Moscow; displaced persons in republics neighbouring Chechnya; young adults with HIV/AIDS or at risk of contracting the virus throughout the federation; and the victims of tuberculosis in Siberia.