Doctors Without Borders (MSF) has begun providing emergency aid to the more than 15,000 refugees from the Kasaï region of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). They have been crossing the Angolan border since mid-April and are now established in the Mussenge and Kakanda camps.
MSF works with local health authorities to provide medical services to refugees and has established a clinic in each camp with a special focus on nutrition. MSF plans to run vaccination campaigns as well as improve water and sanitation provisions so as to prevent the spread of disease.
During the first two weeks of MSF's action in the Dundo camps, fifteen kilometres from the border with DRC, teams focused on analysing the needs of the thousands of refugees, most of whom are children. Two clinics were set up during the first week of May, one for each camp. “We have visited 1,559 patients in the first ten days. The most common pathologies we are detecting are malaria, followed by respiratory problems and gastrointestinal problems.
We are also concerned about malnutrition among the youngest population, some of whom even arrived alone. That is why we have special programmes to treat this problem,” explains Joao Martins, MSF operations coordinator in Angola.
“We are also especially concerned about refugees’ water and sanitation conditions. They must be improved to prevent the spread of disease.” The MSF team in Dundo, composed of 17 specialists, is also collaborating in the referral system of the most seriously ill patients to the Nova Centralidade hospital in Dundo, where patients with machete wounds, amputated limbs, burns and gunshot wounds recently arrived. MSF also plans to provide support to the hospital in the coming days.
“We are concerned because the situation in Kasaï remains unstable and more people are trying to reach Angola. We have to be prepared to provide an adequate response for a greater number of people,” warns Martins.
MSF is one of the organisations contacted by the Angolan authorities to help refugees in Dundo. The organisation resumed its operations in Angola two years ago and has collaborated with the authorities in treating patients with yellow fever. It also sustains a project to support maternal and child health in the Cunene area, bordering Namibia.
Find out more MSF's activities in Angola.