Condition: Critical - Voices from the war in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo

"The future, it means dying. It's dying because of the ongoing problems. Because I was born during the problems. Today I'm 18 years old. You see, it's awful."  –Louis, a malaria patient.

The current escalation in violence has brought the crisis in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo back into the media spotlight, but all too often the people of North and South Kivu are left to survive with little help or attention from the international community. The war has shaped the lives of everyone in the region. Their daily routine has become one of survival amidst a litany of violence.

Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), one of the few humanitarian organisations still working in the most violent areas of the region, is sounding the alarm with the international campaign Condition: Critical – Voices from the war in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. The campaign highlights the situation of people in Congo's North and South Kivu provinces and gives them a chance to be heard. They themselves are best placed to explain the conditions they face and their needs, to give a face to their suffering. 

With the launch of Condition: Critical – Voices from the war in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, MSF wants to highlight the ongoing crisis in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. Condition: Critical – Voices from the war in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo tells the personal stories of people struggling to survive in a region that has become the frontline of a conflict raging for years, and which sharply intensified at the end of August 2008.

MSF invited World Press Photo laureate Cédric Gerbehaye to the region. His photographs are the basis of a video feature that is central to the Condition: Critical – Voices from the war in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo website

MSF has been working in North and South Kivu since 1992. Our medical teams carry out emergency surgery, treating injuries including gunshot wounds and burns; run mobile clinics to reach those who have fled to safer, more remote areas; provide health care in hospitals and health centres; respond to epidemics like cholera; provide medical care to victims of sexual violence; and provide psychological support for those traumatized by what they have experienced.

Through personal testimonies, photos and video, aims to help the people of the Kivus have their voices heard by the outside world. It is a tool for them to talk about their daily lives, and their struggle to survive in such bleak circumstances. If the crisis continues, the website will run for at least a year, bringing fresh news and material regularly in an effort to keep the crisis in the spotlight.

The reality of the situation is that life in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo isn't just hard, conditions there are critical. Homes and land have become battlefields. Children born during the crisis know nothing but war. Shelter, food and water are in short supply.
In addition, cholera cases are being reported in more and different locations than usual. The recent fighting has led to an increase in the number of cholera patients. Risk factors include poor sanitation, lack of clean water, the constant movement of the population, and crowded conditions in displaced camps.

MSF remains very concerned about the many people still on the move, continuously fleeing the ongoing fighting. Many of the displaced and local residents continue to be in urgent need of food, clean water, healthcare and basic items such as blankets, hygiene kits and shelter materials.
MSF is increasing its emergency response in the region to cope with the deteriorating situation. It is currently working in Goma and other parts of North and South Kivu including Rutshuru, Kibati, Kirotshe, Kiwanja, Buhimba, Masisi, Kitchanga, Mweso, Nyanzale, Kayna, Bukavu, Minova and Kalonge. will be launched on November 20.

From January to October 2008, MSF teams:

Performed more than 4600 surgical interventions
Gave nearly 172,000 consultations
Admitted nearly 27,500 patients to hospital
Provided medical care to nearly 5700 victims of sexual violence
Treated more than 7000 cholera patients
Performed nearly 850 surgeries for war wounded patients
Treated more than 3200 children for malnutrition
Vaccinated 19,900 people against measles
MSF has been working in the Democratic Republic of Congo since 1981, and in North Kivu since 1992.

As of November 2008, MSF had 87 international staff and 1126 local staff working in North Kivu and South Kivu provinces.

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