Refugees at Rwanda Zaire Border- interview Catherine Delaisse MSF – France 2- 19 November 1996 - 2min 10sec – in French

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Refugiesa frontiere Rwanda Zaire - interview Catherine Delaisse MSF– France 2- 19 novembre 1996 - 2min 10sec – en francais

Translation: 

TV journalist: Now to Zaire. Over the past two weeks you will have seen during our news bulletins scenes of columns of people forced onto the roads back to Rwanda. Our reporters have met these men and women, but most of all the children, who have often travelled over a hundred kilometres.

Commentary: Those now arriving on the border between Zaire and Rwanda are the weakest and the most exhausted. They are last in the line, but their fortitude commands our admiration. The most vulnerable are 4 to 8 year-old children and so old enough to walk. They have sometimes covered 60 kilometres a day in the most appalling conditions. This woman, who has lost 4 children during the death march, is taking care of other kids and they need food.
MSF staff: These are the children she’s picked up on her way.

Journalist: Is this what’s left of a meal? What is it?

Commentary: They’re actually bananas. They’re for making beer but they have be cooked because otherwise they’re inedible. They cause diarrhoea, which is the main danger. This woman explains that she’s given her children mashed up roots for their water and they’ve all eaten tree leaves on their way here. The long lines of refugees have been helped a bit by local people but mainly they’ve stolen food from fields beside the road.

Woman: When you’re hungry, you can’t just walk past fields with bananas, or potato fields. You can’t just walk by; you do what you have to do. That’s how we’re surviving.

Commentary: But when they get to the first humanitarian aid organisation posts, they’re given high-protein biscuits and rehydration salts. Maybe that’s what keeps them going on the next stage of their journey.

Catherine Delaisse: Yes, there aren’t any food distributions. All we hand out are biscuits and mashed biscuits, to everyone, including the children. We also have rehydration posts.

Commentary: Because water is vital. 45,000 litres are brought to this border post everyday so that the refugees don’t have to drink stagnant, disease-ridden water left over from the rainy season.