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MSF evacuates teams from eastern Congo

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Kinshasa - Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) has evacuated its 10 expatriate staff from Goma, Bukavu and Kisangani in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo because of the recent unrest in the country.

Apart from the increasing insecurity, the teams were evacuated because they could no longer provide relief in an effective way.

MSF remains in the south and west of Congo, including the capital, Kinshasa.

During the last week, the teams in the eastern province of Kivu at the Rwanda border were threatened by armed rebels and government soldiers. After heavy fighting broke out in Kisangani between the Congolese army and the rebels, MSF offered medical aid to the wounded people. This was refused by the authorities.

MSF is very worried about the effects of the fighting on the civilian population. MSF is also concerned about the constant rumours that Congolese and Rwandan citizens - especially Tutsis - are being harassed and killed. MSF has been working in the eastern part of Congo since 1991. After the advance of the then rebel leader Laurent Kabila in 1997, MSF was involved in the provision of aid to Rwandan and Burundian refugees in the area. MSF provided relief to the local population as well. But access to the area remained limited.

MSF has projects in Goma, Bukavu, Kisangani and Bunia. In Goma and Bukavu, MSF supports health centers with drugs and trains medical staff. In Kisangani and Bunia, MSF provides health education and runs a water and sanitation programme to prevent cholera.

The expatriate staff of MSF will return to eastern Congo as soon as safety and access to the populations in need are guaranteed.