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August 5, 2022 French

Philippe Douste-Blazy : « Après avoir connu trois mois de génocide exterminant plusieurs centaines de milliers de personnes, il faut échapper au génocide du choléra »

Card Number 29238

Narcy, Jean-Claude
Rybinski, Gauthier
Berrou, Loïck
23 juillet 1994
Time zone
Journal de 20 heures
Philippe Douste-Blazy : « Après avoir connu trois mois de génocide exterminant plusieurs centaines de milliers de personnes, il faut échapper au génocide du choléra »
L'aide tant espérée commence enfin à arriver : à Goma, un avion américain vient d'atterrir avec à son bord 40 tonnes de vivres et matériels.
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- A little balm in the heart for François Mitterrand: his popularity rating is on the rise, like that of Edouard Balladur, this is what emerges from the poll carried out by the IFOP for Le Journal du dimanche to be released tomorrow. The head of state benefits from an increase of five points, to 51%. The Prime Minister takes eight points: 58% of French people are very or rather satisfied with his action.
- The Rwanda file now. The much-hoped-for help is finally starting to arrive. Traumatized by the images broadcast by television, international opinion is mobilized. In Goma, an American plane has just landed with 40 tons of food and equipment on board, which are also accompanied by many doctors. In the camps it is always horrible: cholera has already killed 7,000 people in four days. Some refugees have even chosen to return home.
- Since this morning, a few hundred refugees have been trying to escape certain death. But the way back is also dangerous. Because to return to Rwanda, you have to walk on the debris of grenades. A man died of it today. But the others? Even if they wanted to go home they didn't have the strength. In the camps around Goma, it is sometimes difficult to tell the dead from the living.
- The repeated spectacle of elongated and dying bodies freezes minds and reinforces fear. A refugee: "We want to return to our country. But under certain conditions. The first condition is that the safety of the other population be guaranteed. For three years, the RPF has only been killing!".
- The border between Zaire and Rwanda has been closed for six days, since the massive influx of refugees. And those who attempt to return to Rwanda do so by trying to bypass the border post since the main road back to Rwanda is littered with debris of weapons and grenades which are sometimes unexploded. But this movement is still very marginal.
- For 24 hours we have been talking about a massive arrival of humanitarian aid from France, the United States, but on the ground it is a little bit Arlésienne. All of this has to fall into place. And so far, there are not enough qualified staff in the field.
- A number of elements of the Rwandan Armed Forces crossed into Zaire during the massive influx of refugees. Not all of them were disarmed by border guards and the Zairian army. These Rwandan forces often roam the middle of the refugee camps and try to re-motivate a number of people. They swear they will resume the fight. A certain number of people from humanitarian organizations, and sometimes even officers of the French army, say that we must above all not leave these elements uncontrolled, that we must give them food, feed them, to "calm the wolves before they show their teeth", that is to say before there are any incidents, for example with the Zairian army, which obviously does not view these elements very favorably. uncontrolled people strolling on the roads of Goma.
- In addition to American food, the European Commission has released 23 billion dollars to send emergency equipment and 17,000 tonnes of cereals. There remains the problem of logistics to get aid to the camps. Goma airport has gone from around ten daily movements to around a hundred. And the track is full and we are running out of trucks.
- In Munigi, there is a lack of manpower to evacuate the corpses from the camp. We are here at one end of the humanitarian chain: that of death and despair. The other end, only seven to eight kilometers away: Goma airport. 18 planes landed there today, bringing nearly 400 tonnes of cargo. But 400 tonnes is not enough, especially when you have to add the Ringer, the rehydration salt, and the pumps essential to the fight against cholera to the rice and flour.
- The airport is full every time one of those huge Antonovs lands there. It takes three hours of work to redo the tarmac. It is the soldiers of the French air engineers who take care of it. They must also police the area around the runway. Many planes are still unloaded by hand. And finally, you have to endure the racketeering of the Zairian authorities: 10,000 francs per landing.
- Downstream from the airport, the task is even more immense: between the crowded roads and the looting, it takes three days for the very few available trucks to reach the most distant camps. But hunger threatens less than cholera: the absolute priority is the establishment of a water purification network. It would take hundreds of tankers to haul it. The High Commissioner for Refugees has four in working order.
- At the request of Edouard Balladur, the French Minister for Health, Philippe Douste-Blazy, arrived this morning in Goma for a 48-hour visit devoted to the assessment of medical and health needs. Philippe Douste-Blazy is supported by specialists in health issues. But he also brought with him medicine, a pumping and water purification unit capable of delivering water to a million refugees for a month.
- Philippe Douste-Blazy: "What we see here is horrible and terrible. Terrible because after having experienced three years of civil war, after having experienced three months of genocide exterminating several hundred thousand people, the Rwandan population undergoes a human tide, an extraordinary exodus where tens of thousands of people cross this Zairian border per hour! And I must say that it is absolutely terrible because after this genocide, we can say genocide of kalashnikovs or machetes, we must escape the genocide of cholera, cholera epidemics, dysentery, meningitis. We now know that five million liters of water are needed per day, whereas we can only distribute 200,000. We know that 500 tonnes of food are needed per day, whereas only 200 are arriving. So it is absolutely unacceptable. I called the European ministers before leaving to tell them what the Prime Minister had asked me. I believe there must be great solidarity. Humanistic reason will triumph over this human madness only if we are all mobilized. If we don't want these refugee camps to turn into death camps, we have to react. It really is a call. […] Those who use sarcasm towards France should understand their own passivity. Today, France was the only country to raise its head in the face of this unprecedented humanitarian catastrophe. Tomorrow, France will play its role within the framework of an international community of solidarity. I did a road two hours apart. When I returned after two hours, there were maybe 500 more corpses. I think this is absolutely horrible. We cannot leave that. The others must come, France cannot remain alone. It's impossible".
- The German government has just made two Transall transport planes available to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. Germany will also provide around 20 drinking water productions. For his part, Niki Lauda, ​​the former Formula 1 world champion, provides free humanitarian aid with a Boeing from his company "Lauda air".
- Marc Gentilini, "Head of Infectious and Tropical Diseases, Pitié-Salpêtrière, Paris": "We cannot stop the epidemic by drugs. Even less by vaccines. It is too late. It must be stopped by the control of water and by the nutritional contribution of the population. These are the two major conditions which will make it possible to control the diffusion of the cholera vibrio which is at the origin of this epidemic very probably. All the risks are to be considered, It is an atrocious situation. The images which have been shown prove it. But it is above all an absurd situation. And it is absurd that France is alone present. And it is absurd that we have been so slow to provide the means control of the health status of these fleeing populations, which we knew should flee and that we are now taking in camps that are not prepared. If Europe and the United States are mobilized, there is there is every reason to hope that the situation will be under control. do it quickly and you have to do it hard. […] It is certain that the situation, which was already catastrophic in Rwanda for the disease of AIDS will be reinforced by all these migrations which can infect, spread, disperse viruses and bacteria".