13 November 1991 – France 3 – Florence Villagi, MSF: Vukovar convoy – FRENCH



TV presenter: Médecins Sans Frontières is celebrating its 20th anniversary today with the launch of its appeal "1 franc a day" to help save lives. In a few minutes I’ll tell you about Jean-Marie Cavada’s La Marche du Siècle on at 8.30 tonight on France 3. But before that, I would like us to take a look at a story broadcast a few weeks ago on the news on France 3 Lorraine. It’s the story told by a nurse from east France who works for MSF. She was travelling in the convoy that hit an anti-tank mine last October in former Yugoslavia. Jean Roussart reports.

Commentary: Florence Villagi will remember Saturday 19 October for the rest of her life, as this was the day when around fifteen Médecins Sans Frontières vehicles left the base camp in Djakovo to go to Vukovar. The towns are only about twenty kilometres apart but it took over four hours to get to the hospital in Vukovar where around one hundred wounded people were waiting for them. Florence recalls arriving in the town.

Florence: None of us will ever forget it. The civilians were waiting for us, as had been planned. I think they were astounded we’d been able to get through. They were crying; they were so hopeful. It was really important to them.

Commentary: At midday, the MSF vehicles left the town with 108 injured passengers on board. 20 minutes later, a line of Serb armoured vehicles blocked the road and diverted the convoy. One of the vehicles then struck a mine, and two nurses were badly injured. Florence was hit by shrapnel and passed out.

Florence: My colleagues and I were thrown to the back of the truck and we landed on top of the wounded. We passed out for a few seconds and were fairly dazed for quite a while. When I came round I saw two of my colleagues lying on the ground in front of their truck. The wounded held me back to stop me going to them. I understood it was not a pretty sight.