Refugee camp display opens in SF

October 15, 2008 1:28:23 AM PDT
There's a very unusual display you may want to visit in San Francisco this week. It's a refugee camp, in the heart of the city, put there by Doctors without Borders. The medical relief group wants to raise awareness about the millions forced to leave their homes because of war.

"They line up right here and get some information that talks about what's a refugee, what's an idp," said Chris Sauer from Doctors Without Borders.

Chris was my tour guide for the newest, most unusual tourist attraction the Marina Green has seen in a long time. It's a refugee camp, next to the mansions in the Marina and the yacht harbor.

Chris travels with Doctors without Borders to war torn countries to help people.

"Our primary goal is trying to get people access to the right medicine and a physician," said Sauer.

For example, that means vaccines to stop the spread of disease like measles.

We've seen the sad images from the refugee camps I visited during the conflict in the Balkans, to the refugees trying to survive in Darur, Sudan. You'll get to experience some of that this week.

"We say now you've been displaced because of conflict or somebody came into your house with a gun," said Sauer.

Where do you go to find shelter, maybe you'll make something yourself, or be issued a tent by an aid agency.

"Keep in mind that this tent is typically going to be used for a family, two families of five or six. So if you see inside, each family gets half of the tent, and that's ix or eight people per family," said Sauer.

Then, you'll need food and water.

"We're pumping from the surface source, into a water bladder, where we can chlorinate it and provide clean water through a tap stand right over here," said Sauer.

When you see a refugee camp set up like this, it makes you think long and hard about things we take for granted, like easy access to clean water and food.

Imagine carrying a 50 pound jug of water and 50 pound sack of food for a mile with your children, who may be sick.

For the next five days, Doctors without Borders wants you to think about 42 million refugees in crisis.

You can visit the site during the day from Wednesday through Sunday. It's quite an experience and it's free.


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