Kinshasa/Paris - The population of Ankoro - who had fled violence and looting last November - is progressively coming back to town, though uncertainties with regard to their security remains. After two and a half months of operations in Ankoro, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is closing its mission there and is turning to two new emergencies, in Kamina Lenge and Mukubu.
On November 21, when the first MSF team arrived in Ankoro, about 1,500 houses were burnt to the ground. Most of the population fled to the bush to escape the violence and pillaging of the Congolese Armed Forces. Several civilians were killed and many others were wounded. The hospital and its pharmacy were looted.
Calm has now been restored and people are coming back to Ankoro. But the population remains worried, because these acts of violence were not the first and the troops who committed them are yet to be replaced.
In Ankoro, an MSF doctor and an MSF nurse worked with local staff caring for the sick and wounded in the main hospital, while mobile teams were taking care of the population who had sought refuge in surrounding villages.
Since December, several cases of measles have been detected amongst the displaced. From December 17 to January 18, MSF and the health authorities in Ankoro have given measles vaccinations to a total of 22,100 children between the ages of six months and 15 years, all of whom also received a dose of vitamin A. The routine vaccination continues to be offered at the main hospital.
MSF also built 50 communal shelters to house families whose homes were destroyed and who would not have been able to rebuild them before the end of the wet season.
Today, the measles epidemic has reached the region of Kamina Lenge, south of Ankoro, where a rising number of measles-infected children has been detected. The MSF team has taken charge of these children and prepared a new vaccination campaign for close to 50,000 children.
At the same time in Mukubu, to the east of Malemba N'Kulu, another MSF team has begun an emergency operation. This zone is just as badly affected by measles and also by malnutrition. Thirty children have already been admitted to the nutrition center and 30 other are hospitalized. Mobile clinics and the health centres at Kyolo and Kibindi have taken charge of the sick and are referring serious cases to Mukubu.
The population, close to the frontline, is regularly the victim of outbreaks of violence. The last battles took place in January between two rival Mai-Mai groups. The population has received no aid at all for at least three years.