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Thousands of people arrive at Mavinga in search of food

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Geneva/Luanda - Over the past few days thousands of people have left the "reception sites" of Matungo and Capembe, Cuando Cubango province, to go by foot to Mavinga (about 50 km away) in the hope of receiving food aid. The nutritional situation is, indeed, far from being stabilized in this area of Angola.
The general distributions of food of the World Food Program in the "reception sites" (previously called Quartering and Family Areas for ex-Unita soldiers and their families) of Capembe and Matungo had to be stopped for about two weeks following the discovery of a land mine on the airstrip in Mavinga. This temporary rupture of food aid has been the cause of a massive displacement of ten of thousands of people towards Mavinga in search of food. This shows the precarious situation in which these populations find themselves.

"The gravity of the situation and the lack of food is so severe that our teams even saw handicapped people, with prostheses and crutches, start to walk the 50 kilometers which separates them from Mavinga. In fact, this surge, which doubles the number of the people in the town of Mavinga, also makes us fear the worst in terms of epidemic outbreaks considering the lack of drinkable water and early arrival of the rains "explains Fred Meylan, head of mission MSF in Angola. The food rations currently distributed in the area are still not sufficient to stabilize nutritional status of the population.

Admissions into our programs continue to increase: in two days (August 24/25), following the above-mentioned massive displacement, our teams admitted 51 new patients to the hospital and 60 children to the therapeutic feeding centre. Today, in Mavinga and in the "reception sites", MSF cares for more than 1,700 people suffering from malnutrition and will have to triple this number during the next months.

"The Mavinga area, one of the most mined in the country, is difficult to reach and we know that populations remain isolated without our teams being able to reach them" explains Fred Meylan. Finally, if no general distribution of seeds and tools is made in the next few weeks, the survival of tens of thousands of people will depend entirely on humanitarian aid until next spring. It is therefore urgent that, in additional to humanitarian aid, logistical and de-mining actions be undertaken without delay in order to provide fast and durable aid to these completely destitute populations.

MSF is an international organization that provides medical and humanitarian aid to victims of war, conflicts and natural disasters. The aid is provided without discrimination according to race, sex or religion. MSF is an independent organization, mostly financed by private funds.