DR Congo

Medical Teams International volunteers head to conflict-ridden Congo

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Two doctors and two nurses rush in to help families fleeing the fighting

(PORTLAND, ORE.-Nov. 7, 2008) Four medical aid workers with Medical Teams International depart next week for eastern Congo where thousands of families are on the run-fleeing armed attacks by rival armed militia.

The two doctors and two nurses head to Goma on Wednesday where they will join Medical Teams International's director of emergency relief and staff from the agency's Uganda office. The volunteer team will dispense $562,000 in medical supplies which Medical Teams International is air-shipping to the country next week. The supplies-including antibiotics, bandages and pain relievers-will help 10,000 people for three months.

The emergency team, which also will carry $25,000 in medicines when they arrive, will head to makeshift shelters where thousands of villagers await help. More than 200,000 refugees are crammed in the camps, where food, clean water and medical aid are scarce.

"It's critical that we get help to these families now," says Bill Essig, vice president of international programs at Medical Teams International. "We're working with an in-country partner who can help us reach thousands of people, many of who have been shuttled from camp to camp, waiting for the very basic necessities to survive."

Medical Teams International is partnering with HEAL Africa. According to a HEAL staff member, "The people have no food. There are no latrines. People are drinking untreated river water, the same river where people wash, and cows and goats drink." The staff member also confirmed 18 cases of cholera.

The current fighting-which broke out with renewed intensity two months ago-stems from a 1994 conflict that claimed over 500,000 lives in an ethnic genocide between the Congo and Rwanda.

To contribute to the Congo Relief Fund, please go online to our secure Web site, www.medicalteams.org; call 1-800-959-4325; or mail funds to Medical Teams International, PO Box 10, Portland, OR 97207-0010.