Posts

5 Mental Health Effects of the Yazidi Genocide
In the past few years, the Yazidi populations of northern Iraq and northern Syria have faced forced migration, war, the enslavement of women and girls and genocide. These traumatic events have resulted in several, severe psychological problems among Yazidis. A lack of adequate treatment and a prolonged sense of threat compounds the five mental health effects of the Yazidi genocide.

The Yazidis, a Kurdish religious minority, practice a non-Abrahamic, monotheistic religion called Yazidism. When the so-called Islamic State declared a caliphate in Iraq and Syria, it specifically targeted the Yazidis as non-Arab, non-Sunni Muslims. ISIS has committed atrocities against the Yazidis to the level of genocide, according to the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC); these crimes included the enslavement of women and girls, torture and mass killings. This violence caused many Yazidis to suffer from severe mental health disorders.

5 Mental Health Effects of the Yazidi Genocide

  1. Disturbed Sleep: According to a study by Neuropsychiatrie, 71.1 percent of Yazidi refugee children and adolescents have reported difficulty sleeping due to the trauma they have experienced. These sleeping problems include trouble falling asleep, trouble staying asleep and nightmares. Children are afraid that if they fall asleep they will not wake up again. Importantly, disturbed sleep will worsen other problems, such as anxiety.
  2. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder: PTSD is one common mental illness that the Yazidi genocide caused. According to the European Journal of Psychotraumatology, 42.9 percent of those studied met the criteria for a PTSD diagnosis. Women and men experienced traumatic stress differently. Women with PTSD were more likely to show symptoms such as “flashbacks, hypervigilance, and intense psychological distress.” Men with PTSD more frequently expressed “feelings of detachment or estrangement from others.” Additionally, more women than men reported having PTSD. According to a study that BMC Medicine conducted, 80 percent of Yazidi women and girls who ISIS forced into sex slavery had PTSD.
  3. (Perceived) Social Rejection: Perpetrators of genocide have often employed systematic sexual violence against women to traumatize the persecuted population. In addition to the devastating injuries women experience, they also suffer from several psychological disorders, including PTSD, anxiety, depression and social rejection. Families and communities frequently reject survivors; Yazidi women who suffered enslavement perceive social rejection and exclusion from their communities at high rates. For instance, 40 percent of Yazidi women that BMC interviewed avoid social situations for fear of stigmatization, and 44.6 percent of women feel “extremely excluded” by their community. Social support is a crucial way to alleviate some of the pain from sexual violence and enslavement since rejection from their community magnifies the likelihood that girls will experience depression. Thus, social support, such as community activities organized by schools, can help by decreasing the factors that worsen psychological disorders like depression and by increasing the rate at which girls report instances of sexual violence.
  4. Depression: The Neuropsychiatrie researchers also found that one-third of the children they studied had a depressive disorder. In another study by Tekin et al., researchers found that 40 percent of Yazidi refugees in Turkey suffered from severe depression. Similarly, a 2018 Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF/Doctors without Borders) study in Sinuni found that every family surveyed had at least one member who suffered from a mental illness. The most common problem was depression. As a response to the growing mental health problems among Yazidis, MSF has been providing emergency and maternity services to people at the Sinuni General Hospital since December 2018. MSF has set up mobile mental health clinics for those displaced on Sinjar mountain and provides services such as group sessions for patients. In 2019, MSF health care officials conducted 9,770 emergency room consultations, declared 6,390 people in need of further treatment in the inpatient wards and have helped 475 pregnant women give birth safely. While MSF has increased its health care activities in the region, there are still people on the waiting list to receive treatment.
  5. Suicide: Since the ISIS takeover of the Sinjar region of Northern Iraq, the Yazidis’ historical homeland, the incidents of suicide and suicide attempts among Yazidis have increased substantially according to Médecins Sans Frontières. The methods of suicide or attempted suicide include drinking poison, hanging oneself and drug overdose. Many Yazidis, particularly women, have set themselves on fire. To alleviate this uptick in suicide and other negative mental health effects, MSF increased its presence in the area and offered psychiatric and psychological health care. Since the start of this initiative in late 2018, MSF has treated 286 people, 200 of whom still receive treatment today.

In the aftermath of ISIS’ genocide against the Yazidis of northern Iraq and northern Syria, many survivors have experienced mental health problems stemming from the trauma. These genocidal atrocities will have long-term psychological effects on the Yazidis, but such issues can be mitigated by psychological care. The five mental health effects of the Yazidi genocide outlined above prove the necessity of such health care for populations that have endured genocide and extreme violence.

– Sarah Frazer
Photo: Flickr

 

The Battle Against Monkeypox
Monkeypox is a viral zoonotic disease, meaning that animals transfer it to humans. Infected animals, usually small rodents, transmit the disease through bodily fluids. Sometimes, however, the disease can transmit through human-to-human contact via bodily fluids, but this is less common. Symptoms include body aches and pains, and fever as well as a bumpy, localized rash. Monkeypox is similar to smallpox, a related infection that people have eradicated worldwide. Yet the battle against monkeypox continues. According to the World Health Organization, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) saw over 5,000 monkeypox cases in 2019, including 103 fatalities. In addition, most deaths occurred among younger age groups.

History

People first discovered the virus in 1958 when two outbreaks occurred in colonies of monkeys that they used for research, hence the name. The first human cases were in the DRC in 1970. The disease mainly impacts the country’s rural areas and rainforests, where many consider it endemic. In 2017, Nigeria also experienced one of the worst monkeypox epidemics following 40 years of no confirmed cases in the country.

While the virus has largely concentrated in Africa, there have been documentations of cases of monkeypox outside of Africa in recent years. Usually, these cases involved people who visited Africa and returned home harboring the infection. In 2003, the first monkeypox outbreak outside of Africa occurred in the United States. In the past two years, there have been cases in Singapore, the United Kingdom and Israel.

Treatment

Monkeypox and smallpox share many similarities and both have classifications under the genus orthopoxvirus. Currently, a recommended treatment for monkeypox entails the use of antibiotics and there has been an 85 percent success rate using the smallpox vaccine. A new third-generation vaccine received approval in 2019 for the prevention of both smallpox and monkeypox while scientists continue to develop additional antiviral agents.

Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), an NGO established in 1971, has been on the frontlines battling monkeypox. MSF, which translates to Doctors Without Borders, provides medical assistance to people affected by outbreaks, epidemics and disasters. In October 2018, an emergency team dispatched to a village in the Central African Republic after a monkeypox outbreak there infected about a dozen children. The group set up a quarantine, treating the children while administering vaccinations to others.

World Response

A number of world health organizations have come together in the battle against monkeypox. After the 2017 Nigeria outbreak, the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control sought to unite West Africa’s response to the disease. The NCDC also teamed up with organizations such as the World Health Organization, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the United States and the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention to better observe and document the disease.

Monkeypox prevention includes raising awareness, avoiding potentially infected animals and practicing good hygiene. Several countries have also put forth restrictions on animal trade to stop the spread of the disease across Africa and to other parts of the world. These steps, as well as additional preventative measures and research, will be key to the battle against monkeypox and the prevention of future outbreaks.

Taylor Pittman
Photo: Flickr

Ebola in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

In August of 2018 the Democratic Republic of Congo declared an Ebola outbreak. The first case of the virus erupted in the city of Goma, located on the border of Rwanda. As the tenth Ebola outbreak in Congo within 40 years, the virus became a public health concern for the over 1 million people that call Goma home. Goma also acts as a popular transit hub for many people crossing the border into Rwanda putting the population at a heightened risk for the disease to spread. The International Health Regulations Emergency Committee has met four times following this initial Ebola case.

  1. A Widespread Disease: Congo’s ongoing Ebola outbreak is now the world’s second-largest. According to The World Health Organization (WHO), the virus has infected 2,512 people and killed 1,676. The largest Ebola outbreak on record took place in West Africa killing more than 11,300 people. WHO continues its efforts to stop the spread of the disease in Congo with its team of medical specialists. In the worst cases, death and uncontrollable bleeding have resulted from the viral hemorrhagic fevers of the disease.
  2. A Global Issue: On July 17, 2019 the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the Ebola outbreak in Congo a global health emergency. Following the first case of Ebola, intensive training for the prevention and control of the virus heightened for more than six months. News of a female traveller from Beni that contracted the virus, and then visited Uganda sparked growing concern in Uganda and Congo. Between June and July of 2019 an estimated 245 confirmed cases of Ebola were reported in the North Kivu and Ituri provinces of Congo. WHO makes the continuous effort to monitor the cases of those infected, as well as travel and trade measures in relation to the virus.
  3. Dangerous Territory: The Ebola response teams in the Democratic Republic of Congo face violent attacks. David Gressley, the United Nations’ secretary-general, became the deputy of the U.N. missions in Congo and witnessed it firsthand. Gressley requested a force of peacekeepers along with the health officials to assist him amid the attacks. The violent attacks often hinder the Ebola responders from treating people with the virus, and still no one knows the reasoning or people behind the attacks. The U.N. estimates that due to the attacks about 1,200 have been shot or slashed to death with machetes. One popular theory points to Congolese politicians orchestrating the attacks in order to undermine political rivals. On the other hand, the Congolese government blames the Mai Mai militia. Rumors continue to swirl that the U.N. responders fail to treat Ebola patients, and intentionally spread the virus which makes them even more susceptible to these attacks.
  4. Catching Ebola: Common diseases such as measles and malaria share initial symptoms of Ebola. Many medical specialists in Congo believe that to put a stop to this epidemic they first must isolate the disease. Most Ebola patients receive a diagnosis too late, and go through multiple health facilities before getting treatment. Response teams understand that controlling the transmission of Ebola, and catching the disease in its early stages has the potential to save an entire community.
  5. The Ebola Vaccination: More than 111,000 people have received the Ebola vaccination. Developed by Canadian scientists, the Ebola vaccine (also known as the rVSV-ZEBOV vaccine) consists of an animal virus that can wear a non-lethal Ebola virus protein, which results in the human immune system developing a pre-emotive defense to the disease. Health care professionals, and family members of Ebola patients are the majority of those vaccinated. Health care responders in Congo ensure that all the contacts of Ebola patients receive a vaccine to stop the epidemic. Reports show no deaths from individuals that developed Ebola symptoms more than 10 days after receiving the vaccination.
  6. Promoting a Disease-Free Environment: Medecins Sans Frontieres/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) promotes healthcare and community engagement in Congo. This organization sends teams to determine and assist the medical needs of populations in crisis with exclusion from healthcare. Among the Ebola outbreak in Congo, MSF continues to provide free healthcare for non-Ebola needs, such as malaria and urinary tract infections. First starting in the city Goma, the MSF has now shifted aid to the Ituri province to limit infections with sanitation activities, and provide access to clean water.

These six facts about the Ebola outbreak in Congo demonstrate global organization’s enthusiasm to assemble in times of crisis. Countless organizations continue to lend support to the Democratic Republic of Congo, and in due time the country will be at its best with a healthy population.

– Nia Coleman
Photo: Flickr

MSF Uses Virtual Reality to Build Better HospitalsMédecins Sans Frontières (MSF), or Doctors Without Borders to the English-speaking world, is a global organization that provides professional medical care wherever poverty, war, disasters or otherwise raise a need. According to the group’s International Activity Report, 6.3 million donors funded 11.2 million outpatient consultations, 750,000 inpatients’ treatment and more than 100,000 major surgical interventions in 2018 alone. MSF consistently achieves a huge global impact. While generous donors and devoted staff are part of this success, the organization also improves its operations to ensure progress. MSF takes every opportunity to evolve and utilize resources more efficiently. Most recently, MSF uses virtual reality to build better hospitals.

Building Innovation

One such evolution began back in November 2013 when Typhoon Haiyan struck the Philippines. After providing several weeks of emergency support from tent hospitals, MSF determined the municipality of Guiuan needed a more permanent solution. Plans to build a transitional hospital quickly began, and four months later, the organization completed the sturdier facility for use.

Two years later, MSF found an opportunity for innovation. With the help of design firm Pyxis, MSF’s technical team built a 3D printed model of the Guiuan hospital. Designers then turned the same 3D layout into an interactive virtual landscape, which was explorable through a virtual reality (VR) headset. But why should MSF redesign plans for an already built hospital?

Benefits of Creating a 3D Printed Model

These steps were not just for novelty; they served as a proof-of-concept for an innovative approach to the construction process. Since then, MSF has used this innovative virtual reality technology to build better hospitals. The tangible nature of the 3D printed model promotes a more user-friendly design stage. Planners can clearly determine if the facility’s design suits the environment it will serve.

On a more granular level, doctors can also optimize the facility’s layout before people start laying the foundation. The most immersive VR model supports this aspect. Is the main corridor wide enough to accommodate high traffic? Are the sterile processing rooms, scrub sinks and operating rooms in a useful order, or would doctors have to retrace their steps in situations where seconds matter? These details are crucial to the efficiency of a finished hospital.

The worst crises also benefit from the new approach. For example, the World Health Organization named the current Ebola virus outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo a global health emergency, and the Ebola outbreaks require a quick response and reliable facilities. In this case, the best health care facility is the one that is operable first. Virtual reality expedites the construction process. Designers can create and build more nuanced plans potentially months faster than with traditional blueprints.

MSF uses virtual reality to build better hospitals by improving and expediting the construction process. VR landscapes and 3D plans are easier to visualize, edit and share amongst MSF staff around the world. Better yet, adopting VR technology now only makes it easier for designers to utilize future innovations. CAVE-CAD software, for example, is one such advancement that would allow architects to make changes to VR schematics while still inside the virtual environment. One thing is for sure; Médecins Sans Frontières continues to receive positive attention for the care it provides. As for hospitals, if MSF builds it, those who need it will come.

– Molly Power
Photo: Flickr

Cholera in the Democratic Republic of Congo
Cholera is a disease that causes diarrhea and severe vomiting which can be fatal if left untreated. Areas that suffer from famine and poor sanitation are particularly susceptible to contracting the disease and the people most likely to become ill with cholera are individuals with low immunity, malnourishment or HIV. Cholera in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is severe and requires immediate attention.

The Democratic Republic of the Congo has become one of the worst victims of this disease. Less than one in seven Congolese citizens have adequate hygienic conditions, and less than half have access to clean water. These are contributors to the susceptibility of the Congolese to cholera.

Cholera in the Democratic Republic of the Congo has proved itself to be a fearsome disease. As of Jan 1, 2019, the Democratic Republic of the Congo declared cholera a nationwide epidemic. In March 2019, the Democratic Republic of Congo reported 1,016 EVD cases. These cases had a fatality rate of 62 percent and resulted in 634 deaths.

Organizations Working with the Democratic Republic of the Congo

To prevent the spreading of cholera, it is essential that the people of the Democratic Republic of the Congo wash their hands, use clean bathroom facilities, eat thoroughly cooked food, have access to clean water and do not come in contact with contaminated corpses. The Democratic Republic of the Congo has partnered with numerous organizations in the hopes of implementing these changes in the country.

The Democratic Republic of the Congo teamed up with UNICEF to ensure that its people have access to clean water. UNICEF has given more than 460,000 Aquatab water-purification tablets to the country, alongside numerous water-treatment facilities along the river.

Medecins Sans Frontieres has also partnered with the Democratic Republic of the Congo to try to help the country combat its cholera crisis. MSF has set up cholera treatment units in the most affected areas of the country to ensure that constant care is available.

The World Health Organization is yet another organization that has been working alongside the Democratic Republic of the Congo to combat this disease. WHO has been trying to give technological support, send medicine and teach the people of the Democratic Republic of the Congo proper hygiene techniques. It has also been attempting to gather data to quantify the disease in the hopes of getting a better understanding of it.

The Democratic Republic of the Congo’s Immunization Plan

The Democratic Republic of the Congo’s latest plan of action has been its immunization plan. Government officials have come together to give more than 800,000 individuals cholera immunizations. WHO and the United Nations have both been involved in aiding the country in carrying out this plan.

The Democratic Republic of Congo’s Ministry of Health will carry out this program, along with further assistance from the World Health Organization and the Vaccine Alliance. Dr. Deo Nshimirimana, the World Health Organization’s Democratic Republic of Congo representative, stated, “Cholera is a preventable disease. Vaccinating people at risk in the most exposed health zones in North Kivu against cholera is a massive contribution and will protect hundreds of thousands of people.”

Cholera in the Democratic Republic of the Congo remains an imminent threat, but the country has shown that it has no intention of remaining idle in this fight. The country’s ambitious plan, which went into effect on May 27, 2019, is in full swing. Only time will tell if the program is successful, but program officials continue to be optimistic.

– Gabriella Gonzalez
Photo: Flickr

Medical humanitarian aidAccording to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an epidemic is a significant and sudden increase in the number of cases of a particular disease in a specific area or within a certain population. Epidemics can present themselves all over the world. However, epidemics are most common in impoverished, war-torn and developing countries.

Medical humanitarian aid can help end epidemics in many impoverished countries. Most countries that receive foreign humanitarian aid are not properly equipped to deal with disease outbreaks, nor do they have the trained medical professionals needed. This is how a disease outbreak quickly turns into an epidemic.

Many international medical relief groups focus their efforts on controlling epidemics by providing adequate medical training, professionals and equipment. Listed below are some of the international medical relief groups that are working toward ending epidemics.

Medical Teams International

Medical Teams International is a Christian-based international relief group that has been using medical humanitarian aid to help end epidemics. The group works by delivering medical supplies and trained volunteers to areas in need. The mission of the group is to provide medical, dental, humanitarian and holistic relief to diverse areas without discrimination.

For over 25 years, Medical Teams International has been providing relief for refugees in impoverished and war-torn countries. For example, in 2017 the United Nations declared a famine in South Sudan as a result of the civil war that has been ongoing since 2013. Shortly after the declaration, Medical Teams International dispatched massive relief efforts to combat the Cholera and Malaria epidemics.

Currently, Medical Teams International has provided medical humanitarian aid to over 520 thousand Sudanese refugees, severely curving the disease epidemics in that area.

Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF)

Medecins Sans Frontieres, also known as Doctors Without Borders, is one of the most well known international medical-based relief groups in the world. For over 45 years, the group has dispersed trained medical professionals and medical humanitarian aid across the globe. Medecins Sans Frontieres is also on the cusp of many medical initiatives in impoverished countries.

Medecins Sans Frontieres is known for tackling large disease outbreaks and epidemics in poor and dangerous areas. In 2017, Medecins Sans Frontieres dispatched relief efforts to Uganda after the country was declared in a state of humanitarian emergency. The group focused its efforts on the recent Cholera outbreak spreading through Uganda, setting up multiple Cholera clinics to help treat and prevent the spread of Cholera to other refugees in Uganda.

Direct Relief

Direct Relief is another nonprofit humanitarian aid organization that primarily focuses on medical relief to devastated areas. The goal of the organization is to provide proper and comprehensive medical aid for impoverished areas and emergencies. In 2017, Forbes ranked Direct Relief among the top United States charities.

Over the past five years, Direct Relief has provided medical humanitarian aid to over 80 countries, many in Africa and South Asia. They have supplied over two thousand healthcare facilities and have sent billions of U.S. dollars worth of medical equipment and supplies.

These international organizations and many more have worked hard to make medical humanitarian aid more accessible to impoverished countries. Many epidemics that have started due to unsafe food, unsafe water and a generally poor environment have been contained and even eliminated by medical humanitarian aid. These organizations believe that with the right aid and volunteers, diseases around the world can be eradicated.

– Courtney Wallace

Photo: Flickr

Accomplishments of Doctors Without Borders
As poverty is addressed around the world, there is a need for people in all kinds of specialties but especially the medical field. 
Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), also known as Doctors Without Borders, is an international medical humanitarian organization helping people from over 60 countries threatened by violence, conflict, neglect, natural disasters, epidemics, health emergencies and exclusion from healthcare.

They address areas where the need is greatest, unbiasedly delivering emergency medical aid. There have been many accomplishments of Doctors Without Borders, but here are three of their most recent projects:

 

1. Hospital in Tasnimarkhola 

Doctors Without Borders constructed a new hospital in Tasnimarkhola camp, Bangladesh in three weeks. The hospital has an emergency room, an intensive care unit, a pharmacy and sterilization unit. In its first month of operation, MSF staff admitted 220 patients with more than half needing treatment for measles.

 

2. Medical Assistance to Refugees

MSF provided medical assistance to refugees and migrants in the central Mediterranean. At sea, the search and rescue vessel Aquarius — run by MSF in cooperation with humanitarian organization SOS MEDITERRANEE — rescued 3,645 people and brought those rescued to ports of safety in Italy.

Doctors Without Borders also provided psychological first-aid after tragic rescues while also running several mental health and healthcare projects in Sicily. In Libya, the MSF teams provided medical assistance to refugees and migrants that were arbitrarily held in detention centers nominally under the control of the Ministry of Interior.

 

3. Treatment of War-Wounded People in Taiz 

Doctors Without Borders has a team treating war-wounded people in Taiz. Currently, Taiz is one of the most intense conflict zones in the country with extremely high humanitarian needs. Doctors Without Borders are one of the few medical organizations in Taiz who remain committed to working in Yemen.

These three specific accomplishments of Doctors Without Borders are some of many; the staff continuously works hard, laborious hours to save the lives of those affected by poverty.

War, disease and lack of resources are major contributing factors of poverty, and Doctors Without Borders have been able to impact these areas beyond its immediate activities, reaching populations or developing the use of practices in ways that have far-reaching and lasting consequences (see MSF-USA’s 2012 Annual Report). 

The accomplishments of Doctors Without Borders are so powerful because so many people are committed to addressing the great needs of poverty and bringing hope to those around the world.

– Julia Lee

Photo: Flickr

Sudanese UN Camp
Seeking refuge from widespread violence, 40,000 South Sudanese people are living in horrific conditions in a U.N. compound in Bentiu. Medecins Sans Frontieres reported difficult conditions since the camp’s opening nearly four months ago, but the onset of the rainy season in July caused massive flooding throughout the area. Over one thousand makeshift shelters have been flooded, but camp residents are too afraid of the raging civil war to leave. Instead they remain knee-deep in sewage-contaminated water, even going so far as to sleep standing up with infants in their arms.

“Outside we have been destroyed by war. We come here, we have been destroyed by water,” said Mary, an 18-year-old refugee living in the South Sudanese U.N. camp. “We don’t know what to do.” Some have tried to scoop water out of their shelters with cooking pots, or build mud barriers across doorways to prevent flooding—but to no avail.

Due to the sewage-contaminated floodwater, as well as a lack of clean drinking water and latrines, there is a constant risk of infection. This risk is exacerbated by the growing rates of poverty and malnutrition among refugees. More than 200 residents of the camp have died since May, most of them children. And although mortality rates have lowered in the last few weeks, at least one child still dies every day.

Ivan Gayton, emergency coordinator of MSF called for urgent drainage efforts: “It’s difficult to drain here—it’s a large grass swamp—but nevertheless it’s possible.” He added, “There are excavators here, there is machinery here, there are a lot of assets that could actually be deployed to improve conditions within this protection-of-civilians zone.” With a committed and well-planned effort, existing MSF resources could make a profound impact on the state of living conditions for Bentiu residents. In addition, unused dry land in the area immediately outside the camp could be portioned out to those impacted the most by flooding. “There are bits of dry land that can be allocated…. They need to be allocated without delay to the people who are trying to make their lives in this absolutely terrible flooded condition,” said Gayton.

As of yet, little effort has been made toward drainage of the camp. But what is obvious is that the current situation is unjustifiable without immediate efforts to improve conditions. The residents are unable to leave Bentiu because they fear being killed once outside the relative safety of the camp. Most fled ethnically-charged fighting between government forces and rebels under opposition leader Riek Machar in December, and there is no end to the conflict in sight. But the deplorable conditions in the compound are not much better: according to MSF, people should be protected and safe from disease as well as from violence.

Gayton said, “Protection is not really meaningful if the conditions under which you can be protected aren’t even fit for human life, let alone dignity.”

– Mari LeGagnoux

Sources: MSF, Al Jazeera, Africa Journalism The World,
Photo: The Guardian

Doctors Without Borders
Doctors Without Borders, an international humanitarian organization that seeks to provide high-quality medical care to needy people around the world, has halted their work in Boguila, Central African Republic.

The organization–also known by its French acronym MSF–stopped offering services after 16 civilians and three MSF staff members were killed in an attack by ex-Seleka rebels on Saturday. The rebels surrounded the hospital where MSF staff were meeting with local community leaders to discuss medical access and care. They proceeded to rob the MSF office at gunpoint and opened fire on the participants of the meeting.

This incident is especially troubling provided that MSF was the only international humanitarian organization working in the area. As violence increases, thousands of people are left without access to medical attention. Not only is this a devastating blow to MSF, it also prevents further humanitarian aid to an increasingly desperate group of people.

This attack follows the continual pattern of rampant violence in the Central African Republic since March of 2013, when Seleka militants ousted President Francoise Bozize and drove the country into a spiral of escalating violence. A transitional government disbanded Seleka in September of 2013, but ex-Seleka militants continue to destabilize the country by wreaking havoc on both urban and rural areas. Sectarian violence between Christians and Muslims has further deteriorated any remaining order in the Central African Republic.

Prior to Saturday’s events, the MSF hospital in Boguila has been operational since 2006 and provided medical care to over 45,000 locals. In addition to their 115-bed hospital, MSF also supports seven health posts in the region that help treat malaria. MSF reports that “each month, between 9,000 and 13,000 general consultations are provided and between 5,000 to 10,000 people are treated for malaria.”

“This appalling incident has forced us to withdraw key staff and suspend activities in Boguila. While we remain committed to providing humanitarian assistance to the community, we also have to take into account the safety of our staff,” said Stefano Argenziano, MSF Head of Mission in the Central African Republic. “In reaction to this unconscionable act, we are also examining whether it is feasible to continue operations in other areas.”

– Madisson Barnett

Sources: Voice of America, Medecins Sans Frontieres, The Telegraph
Photo: Rebel Mom

south_sudan
At the height of conflict, South Sudanese men and women proudly tweet about the local culture, food and businesses. This online praise parallels the devastation in the youngest nation. In a crisis, this reminds world of the vitality and worth of South Sudanese culture.

The United Nations reports 413,000 Sudanese displaced during a month of conflict. The refugee agency U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)  estimates approximately 78,000 fled to neighboring nations such as Uganda and Kenya. South Sudanese men often delivered their families safely to the Ugandan border and returned to fight.

Though government and rebel representatives met in Ethiopia, the conflict surges on. Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders) reports treating 116 people suffering from gun shot wounds.

“From the refugees we have spoken to, we are hearing eyewitness accounts of killings, houses being burnt and shooting,” said UNHCR spokesman Adrian Edwards.

Yet in three days, more than 100 Tweets with the hashtag #ThingsILoveAboutSouthSudan appeared. The hashtag #MyTribeIsSouthSudan also began trending the first few days of the conflict. This hashtag defended the nation from claims of ethnic conflict. Twitter users posted this hashtag more than 2,000 times.

15 Uplifting Tweets About South Sudan

Climbing the jebel. That view. Still have dried branches I collected there in a vase. – Omar Daair, @omarwdc

Habibi the monkey and her friends at Confident Children out of Conflict – John Fenning, @berniefenning

This girl who greets me with “Morning! Morning!” no matter the time of day – Ryan Musser, @gringo_loco

The SBBL brewery, employing more than 700 South Sudanese – Erin Polich, @E_Poli

As Africa’s youngest nation we want peace/prosperity despite the “gloom predictions” – Aguil Lual Blunt, @AguilB

Ingenuity (these dance costumes are made out of torn up tarps) – Nina McMurry, @nmcmurry

The colors. – Erol Yayboke, @ErolYayboke

Extreme ingenuity to fix a flat tire + help from everyone (including parks service) – James Turitto, @Sunday_Jimmy

Never seen people smiling their eyes the way some of my Dinka and Nuer friends do – Reluctant Realist, @reluct_realist

Church weddings are colourful events – Edward Luka, @eremugo

Young people enthusiastically immunizing 100k children in Juba against polio – Sarah Will, @willowwistful

The traditional dances – Seme Nelson, @SemeNelson

The Nile, the culture and the tall, dark and most beautiful girls in the world – johnayom, @johnayom

Fireflies landing on mosquito netting at night. My own private living constellation – Sugar Cane, @jahmericangal

Fiery sunsets, some of the most loving, brave & giving people I know. Photo: Yei 2012 – michele perry, @micheleperry

Visit mytribeissouthsudan.org for more information on the movement to for peace and unity in this young nation.

Ellery Spahr

Sources: BBC, My Tribe is South Sudan
Photo: Desi Club