10 Apr 17 10 Apr 17

MSF reaches survivors of Colombia mudslide

In the early hours of Saturday, 1 April, heavy rains caused three rivers in Colombia to overflow, creating landslides in several parts of the town of Mocoa. 

The flooding of the Mocoa, Mulato and Sancoyaco rivers triggered an avalanche of mud and stones, causing the destruction of over 17 neighbourhoods.

Within hours of the disaster an emergency Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors without Borders (MSF) team was sent to Mocoa from different parts of Colombia.

MSF emergency repsonse 

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After completing an assessment of the humanitarian needs of the mudslide survivors, an MSF team has started to provide psychosocial support and medical care at one of the shelters in the area.

In the Las Americas shelter, which has taken in hundreds of families and people who have lost everything, MSF doctors and psychologists are conducting primary health consultations, prioritising the care of vulnerable groups, women and children.

In the first two days of the intervention, the team carried out 37 medical consultations.

Mental healthcare

Mental healthcare is provided in the shelter, in the town and in surrounding areas, where survivors of this natural disaster have taken refuge.

Our psychologists have begun to work with the community, conducting group psychosocial activities and providing individual consultations.

This is to help survivors cope with the loss of their loved ones and their homes, and to restore normality after the disaster.

"People continue to distraught by the loss of their families and belongings, and there is a persistent fear of the possibility of a new natural disaster” says Laura Garzón, one of the MSF emergency team psychologists.

Rising need for assistance

In the first days of care, we conducted 10 individual psychological consultations, gave talks on sexual violence prevention and provided medical supplies.

The number of dead and missing continues to increase. According to the latest official reports, up until Thursday 6 April, there were more than 293 dead and 332 injured, and more than 3,000 families were affected.

Our team will continue to assess the needs of those who are not being cared for in the shelters, and monitor possible epidemic outbreaks due to the poor hygiene conditions and lack of safe drinking water, especially among vulnerable groups at risk. 

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