MSF/Red Cross reach isolated town of Fizi (DRC)

Goma/Bujumbura, 25th September 2002 - A joint team of Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) and the Fizi local Red Cross society reached the isolated town of Fizi in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) last Wednesday. This was the first visit from an international NGO since July 1998. Due to insecurity and fighting between various armed groups it had been impossible to have access to the town's population. MSF brought a supply of medicines and medical materials into Fizi and equipment capable of assisting this forgotten population of roughly 4,000. The joint team, made up of expatriate and national staff from MSF and the Fizi local Red Cross, including the Red-Cross president, visited Fizi last September 11. The visit was part of a six-week humanitarian assessment mission carried out by MSF in the southern part of the war-torn province of South Kivu and targeted the previously inaccessible health zones of Uvira, Nundu and Fizi. The aim of this visit was to briefly assess the status of the Fizi General Reference Hospital, as well as the local infrastructure e.g. roads, bridges and shelter. It is hoped that the recent visit will pave the way for other humanitarian actors as well to reach Fizi with the view of extending assistance there soon. Security is always an issue in the DRC and it is critical that agencies considering involvement take this very seriously before and during operations. Copies of a report on the findings of this assessment will be made available upon request at MSF offices in Bujumbura (Burundi) and Goma (DRC) in early October. In eastern DRC, MSF runs projects in North- and South-Kivu, as well as in the Eastern Province (Province Oriental). ****** For more information, please call Wyger Wentholt, MSF Regional Press & Information Officer, at 254-(0)2-4444474 or 254-(0)722/(0)733-513981;