MSF assists Liberians fleeing conflict in Ivory Coast

Due to the ongoing fighting and the deteriorating situation in Ivory Coast, MSF has started an assistance programme for the refugees crossing the border into Liberia in the transit camp of Toe Town. In addition, MSF has been running a clinic there since January and is also now running a mobile clinic in the villages of Zodru, Gbarlee and Diala to receive the refugees. Following fighting in regions of Ivory Coast bordering Liberia, over 20,000 people have fled to the latter state. The majority are Liberian returnees - and some Ivorian refugees - who crossed the border mainly in Nimba and Grand Gedeh county. Generally the returnees have been integrated with few difficulties into the population. However, with no relatives in the country, for the Ivorians, it is a different story. "People began to flee after their villages were captured by armed rebels," said Hani Khalifa, MSF medical coordinator. "They promised not to harm anybody. However, after a while, the soldiers started looting some houses, causing a significant number of the population to flee". In Zodru, a small village bordering Ivory Coast where MSF runs a mobile clinic, over 1,200 people have arrived since December. The displaced are using a small canoe to cross the river, trying to collect belongings and keeping the members of each family together. Essential medical supplies are often lacking in the national health centres and clinics. "When we arrived in Zodru, we had to intervene to treat a young boy with nasal bleeding using our emergency box as the clinic did not have the needed emergency medication", said Khalifa. Beside the normal consultations, MSF has organized a medical screening and measles vaccination in the transit centre to ensure direct medical care to this vulnerable population. The nutritional screening has identified a number of severely and moderately malnourished children. The severely malnourished are transferred to a therapeutic feeding center (TFC) recently opened in Saclepia and the moderately malnourished are assisted in the MSF clinic.