MSF team in Shabunda evacuated - food situation worsening
24 April 2002
The MSF team in Shabunda, DRC, was evacuated on April 13, two days after fighting broke out between the army and the MaiMai forces, 25 kilometres north of the city. On Friday morning April 12, the MaiMai reached the outskirts of Shabunda and heavy gunfire broke out in town. Most of the 20,000 inhabitants left the city, many fleeing into the jungle surrounding the town. Eventually the MSF team of five was able to leave in an ICRC plane on Saturday. They are now in Goma. The project activities in Shabunda have been suspended. "It is sad that, while the Congolese peace negotiations are going on in Sun City in South Africa, the population of Shabunda has to flee again," said the head of the MSF emergency team in Eastern DRC. "Daily life is already very difficult. The economy has collapsed and there is hardly any health care." The food situation is also serious. A study by Action Contre la Faim reveals that a therapeutic feeding centre is needed in Shabunda. There are also daily reports of violence against the population and rapes. "The PÃ?¨res Xaverien priests are now our only means of communication with Shabunda as our own radio is now out of service”, he continued. “ We think our local staff have also fled Shabunda. Strange as it may sound, we are very pleased about this. Our staff are very loyal, but still we would prefer them not to put their own lives in danger."