21/12/1986 – France 3 - Avelino, MSF doctor in Colomoncagua refugee camp, Honduras


Avelino médecin MSF au camp de réfugiés de Colomoncagua, Honduras -– in French & Spanish


TV presenter: Médecins sans Frontières celebrates its fifteenth anniversary. Fifteen years of volunteer missions around the world to assist victims of catastrophe and war. We have already shown you two reports on what's happening in El Salvador and to conclude tonight's enquiry, Jean-Luc Mertas and Patrick Boileau take us to the neighbouring country of Honduras, where many refugees from El Salvador have fled. They live in camps, like the one we're about to see:

- Avelino, MSF: “My name is Avelino. I've been working in this camp for six months. It's a Médecins sans Frontières program. It's also my first mission. Our relationship with the refugees has changed a lot over the last six months. At first, people were distant, a bit wary about airing their problems. We had to work really long and hard to gain their trust so they opened up a bit. I think I've formed an idea of who they are, which for me is really important. ”

Commentary: Last August, the Honduran army opened fire on the refugee camp. Avelino decided to stay put. A few days later, a child, belonging to this woman, died in Avelino's arms. The Honduran police threw him into jail for voluntary homicide. The camp mobilised, the mother testified, Avelino was released. Doctors and refugees are now on equal footing. One of the biggest issues for Avelino, as for many others, has been avoiding a paternalistic attitude.

- Avelino, MSF: "It's the easiest attitude to adopt. Obviously, things are ambiguous here. But these people are like you and me. But in a different country, in a different social, political, psychological situation, completely different. I think that working with them calls for liking them, on principle. But not being paternalistic. For me, these people are the most peaceful I have ever known. They've abandoned everything. And they need courage and strength of character to cross these mountains, with the mines and the soldiers. And once they get here, they're more or less imprisoned, while all they're looking for is a bit of freedom and peace. »

Commentary: Avelino's leaving. The time has come for presents, goodbyes, poems written by the children, dances during which the faces bear the daily masks of an uprooted people's sadness. For Avelino, it's a happy return to Spain, and the start of memories.

- Avelino: "I won't ever forget life here. Impossible". »