MSF prepares for possible refugee flows from Ivory Coast

Further MSF activities in the region depend on the future events in Ivory Coast, the number of refugees that arrive in Mali and Burkina Faso and their health condition. The situation in Ivory Coast remains unpredictable.

While reinforcing its team in Bouaké, Ivory Coast, MSF is also preparing for the possible arrival of refugees in the neighbouring countries Mali and Burkina Faso. In the first week of October, MSF brought shelter and medical supplies to Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, to serve as an emergency stock, and is preparing the arrival of an emergency stock in Bamako, Mali. These supplies will be flown in with a full cargo.

With the stocks MSF will be able take charge of a total of 10,000 people for a duration of three months. The supplies will be used to assist the refugees that might arrive from Ivory Coast in the neighbouring countries, due to the insecurity and ongoing fighting.

"MSF is already assisting 600 to 700 refugees that have gathered in the transit camp of Zegoua in Mali, only six kilometres from the border," explained Jan Weuts, coordinator of the MSF emergency pool in Brussels. "We have provided medication and medical equipment for the health post and will also send plastic sheeting for temporary shelter and sanitation equipment such as latrines and douches."

The people who are staying in the transit camp at Zegoua mainly come from the Pogo region in the Ivory Coast, close to the border with Mali. They return home when the situation seems calm but come back to the transit camp when tensions rise. Zegoua also hosts military, paramilitary and administrative officials who have been targeted by deserters from the Ivory army.

"People in these kind of situations are very vulnerable," Jan Weuts added. "Therefore our medical teams will keep a close eye on the refugees in the transit camp to check their living conditions and to signal possible problems with protection, violence or abuses of any kind."

Further activities of MSF in the region depend on the future events in Ivory Coast, the number of refugees that arrive in Mali and Burkina Faso and their health condition. The situation in Ivory Coast remains unpredictable. Not many people are fleeing yet to neighbouring countries but this might change if the situation deteriorates. With the emergency stocks that MSF is sending in, the organisation is ready to respond immediately should larger numbers of people flee to Mali or Burkina Faso.

On October 7, MSF sent two volunteers to Bouaké, Ivory Coast, (see October 7 MSF press release An emergency team in Bouaké, Cote d'Ivoire ) to reinforce the team already present. They brought medical, sanitary and surgical equipment for the central hospital and some peripheral health structures. The team will restart activities in some dispensaries that were closed since the beginning of the military troubles, to improve the access to basic health care for the civil population.

The teams in Abidjan, who provide assistance to detainees, continue their work in spite of the unstable situation in the country. They are planning to increase their activities by providing material and medical assistance to families in precarious neighbourhoods who are threatened with expulsion.