MSF talk of SL govt's inability to care for Tamil civilians

April 22, 2009 Comments Off on MSF talk of SL govt's inability to care for Tamil civilians

MSF treating hundreds of wounded arriving from Sri Lankan war zone
According to international humanitarian law, when a government does not have the ability to provide basic needs to its citizens, it is obliged to allow international aid agencies to provide this care. The report by Médecins Sans Frontières shows that the Sri Lankan government is breaching this law.

There are over 1200 patients and the bed capacity is just over 400. “It’s chaotic” says Karen Stewart “the beds have been pushed together so it’s like one massive bed. Instead of having one person per bed you have two, it’s just like one huge bed across the ward. Then there’s a whole other layer on the ground, we have people under every bed, so that’s double capacity. You also have a lot of people who are outside in the walkways lying on mats.”

People arriving from the war zone are put into temporary government run camps in Vavuniya which are fast reaching maximum capacity. Families are cramped together, in some cases an entire family has to live in the space of a sofa. There is no freedom of movement in between the camps and only a minority have been able to find out any information about their loved ones who might be in other camps. “This” says Karen “is one of the biggest causes of mental health distress. They arrive, wounded, lost and skinny and then they are put in a camp where they can’t leave and they can’t call their family. They have no communication, they have nothing. There can be a husband and wife in two separate camps and they would never know.”

MSF tells it as it is!

February 15, 2009 Comments Off on MSF tells it as it is!

Medecins Sans Frontieres (aka Doctors Without Borders) staff say patients arriving in Vavuniya hospital are in need of both medical care and counselling. MSF mental health officer Karen Stewart talks about what patients are going through.

“People arrive here in a state of extreme anxiety and fear…Young children and elderly travelling with their caretakers claim they were separated at a checkpoint. The caretakers or family members who were healthy were forced to go to camps, while those wounded and sick had to go to the hospital…Patients were told they would go to the hospital for a few days and then go back to the Vanni again. But later they heard they couldn’t go back…People regretted coming here, saying they would prefer dying with their family to being in a camp…Children at the hospital are unaccompanied. They scream and call out for their mothers. Elderly people are on their own.”

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