Women and children are extremely vulnerable to sexual violence during times of conflict. Rape is frequently used by armed groups as a weapon of war, and in places where law and order have crumbled, vulnerable people simply have no recourse, leaving attackers to act with impunity. Such is the case in Central African Republic (CAR), where the brutal fighting continues.
Photographer Sven Torfinn recently visited Galcayo, a divided town in Somalia where MSF is working to deliver desperately-needed health care amid drought and malnutrition exacerbated by years of conflict.
Southern Sudan was already an underdeveloped region in dire need of investment in essential services, including health care, when large numbers of people returned to vote in a referendum for secession in January 2011.
Usually the result of complications during delivery, a fistula is an opening between the bladder and the vagina, or between the rectum and the vagina. Women become incontinent, and are often shunned from their societies and families as a result. They can also suffer additional medical consequences. Access to pre-natal care and interventions to assist with complicated labor, including C-sections are essential to preventing fistulas.
Violent conflict between government forces and armed groups in and around the town of Pinga, North Kivu Province, keeps local people trapped and unable to access medical care. MSF works in Pinga and send health workers on motorbikes to find people in urgent need of assistance.
Their reality is grim – the thousands of migrants and refugees existing on the margins in South Africa. They lack access to proper health care and shelter and face physical and verbal abuse, police harassment and xenophobic attacks. For these migrants, proper legal status is often difficult to obtain, if not impossible. Gangs prey on them when they cross the border into South Africa and in the derelict buildings where they find temporary housing. As a result, many face further threats living in dangerous conditions, particularly in Johannesburg. Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is providing health care to these vulnerable people in Musina, a town on the border with Zimbabwe, and in Johannesburg.
Some 900 people across Haut Uélé province, in northeastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), have been murdered since the end of 2008, in a string of brutal attacks by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), an armed group active in Uganda and Sudan for over two decades. The systematic violence has forced tens of thousands of civilians to flee their homes and shelter in makeshift structures such as this one. They are receiving little assistance.