International medical humanitarian organisation Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) were in Cork last night discussing their work at a public talk.
MSF delivers emergency aid in nearly 70 countries worldwide to people caught up in war, disasters, and epidemics.
At the moment, MSF is providing emergency medical care to people fleeing to Bangladesh from horrendous violence in Rakhine State, Myanmar.
According to the organisation, there are now over 515,000 Rohingya that has left their homes and moved to Bangladesh since August 25 to escape violence.
Head of the MSF mission in Bangladesh Pavlo Kolovos said the independent charity had not experienced something on this scale in a number of years.
“Our teams are seeing streams of people arriving destitute and extremely traumatized, and who have had no access to medical care. Many of the arrivals have serious medical needs, such as violence-related injuries and severely infected wounds.”
At the talk held in Cork yesterday, one experienced nurse from Cork, Aoife Ni Muruchu, who has been working with the organisation, spoke about her time in Afghanistan.
Aoife spent nine months implementing a sexual and gender-based violence programme.
Sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) is a term used to describes acts carried out against a person’s will. It includes physical, emotional or psychological and sexual violence and denial of resources or access to services.
SGBV inflicts harm on women, girls, men and boys and is a severe violation of several human rights.
Speaking about her time in Afghanistan, Aoife said: “Afghanistan is a country that is severely distressed from years of chronic instability and conflict.
“People have been suffering there for years in conditions of poverty and from a lack of medical treatment.
“As well as the economic and political structure the health and education system also many aspects of the socio-cultural life have been devastated there, so in terms of my work, they tend to blame the survivors of SGBV.
“The overall culture of SGBV is silent, hidden and underreported, which makes it really difficult to intervene and it is highly sensitive in the community.
“The care and legal framework are completely inadequate and the medical response is very poor.
“So MSF sent me over to implement a programme where we could respond to survivors of SGVB in a confidential environment.”
Aoife said she enjoyed the experience and achieved her goal, but more needed to be done to tackle the issue.
“It was very hard work, very challenging because it is a very sensitive topic in Afghanistan but I was well received in the country.
“The work consisted of assessing health facilities to identify a safe place within the hospital where a survivor could go privately and safely.
“There was training needed as even the medical staff were unaware of the consequences of SGBV “It was a successful mission in that we did manage to establish the programme, however, it needs to be strengthened, we need to continue working on it to strengthen the response.” For more information about MSF log onto www.msf.ie.