In Western Equatoria State, thousands of people live in daily fear of attacks by the LRA. As of the end of August 2010, an estimated 116,000 people had been displaced there as a direct result of LRA violence.
MSF teams are assisting internally displaced people and refugees from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Central African Republic (CAR) who are also victims of violence. These include children who have been abducted and survivors of sexual violence. The objective is to help them improve their coping mechanisms.
Juliana Bingo was abducted by the LRA and held for three years, during which time she gave birth to her son. She was eventually rescued. At Naakiri refugee camp in Western Equatoria State Juliana attends MSF counseling sessions with other survivors of LRA attacks.
MSF mental health counselor Justin Bazume holds a counseling session in Naakiri village with people who lost their spouses as a result of the attacks. “Most of the people have encountered a lot of trauma and grief and they are confused and frustrated with life," Bazume said. "Some of these people have had atrocities committed against them, some have been abducted, some have lost their family members, and some have had their property destroyed"
Widows participate in group sessions in Makpandu refugee camp. Many women lost their husbands during the attacks, and during these sessions they share their often traumatic experiences. In and out of counseling sessions, the women try to help one another.
Ngbitimo Mbula and Letina Ani Kodie are widows due to LRA attacks. They are participating in a counseling session in Makpandu refugee camp. "One other coping mechanism we suggest is very simple: to just take a walk and look at nature, to see how beautiful the flowers are, how the insects are interacting or moving," said Bazume. "Among nature, it’s possible they can see a future, they can see a light. Both today and tomorrow, there is a bright light for them."
"We’ve seen that the children have quite severe trauma reactions," Bazume said. "Some tend to withdraw from school and social activities, and some even become aggressive. Some children blame themselves and think they are the ones who have brought the suffering to their parents. We have spoken to children who think they are the root cause of the LRA attacks. So we have games, activities and storytelling for the children, which helps relieve their minds of the problems they might have encountered."
"We must not forget that this country is also subject to almost the full range of outbreaks and medical emergencies," said Terri Morris, head of mission for MSF in southern Sudan. "It is highly likely that this year, like previous years, we will see outbreaks of diseases such as cholera, meningitis, and measles."