MSF sends medical team to xenophobia violence-hit South Africa

April 22, 2015 9:18 am 

CAPE TOWN, April 22 — Doctors Without Borders (MSF) said on Tuesday it has sent a medical team in response to the health needs of displaced people in areas affected by xenophobia violence in South Africa.

The team is providing basic medical care and conducting needs assessments at three displacement camps, housing more than 7,400 people around Durban, KwaZulu-Natal Province, MSF said in a press release emailed to Xinhua.

A second team will soon conduct similar assessments in Ekurhuleni in the province.

The team started work on April 14, focusing on immediately providing for the unmet medical and humanitarian needs of fearful migrants and refugees who have fled their homes during the violence, MSF said.

People in the camps are predominantly from Mozambique, Malawi, Zimbabwe and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The MSF team is actively providing medical and water sanitation services to three camps (Isipingo, Chatsworth and Phoenix) coordinating closely with the Department of Health (DOH) to ensure regular mobile clinics twice weekly for consultations and treatment, ensuring referrals to hospitals and providing medication for chronic conditions like HIV and TB, the release said.

It said the team's objective is to provide supportive care where gaps in the response are identified for medical care, water and sanitation services and help for survivors of sexual and gender-based violence, while supporting elements of improved camp management.

"We have seen children with diarrhea, fever, skin diseases and a case of pneumonia. We have also treated men who had been badly injured in the violence but had not tried to get care because they were too scared to go hospital or leave the camps with assistance, " said Gemma Arellano, MSF emergency team leader in KwaZulu Natal.

"In Chatsworth Camp, one man suffered fractured ribs in an attack 14 days ago, but he was too scared to seek help. Despite the pain, even today, he does not want to go a hospital for fear of being targeted again," said Arellano.

"In Phoenix Camp, we treated a man who had multiple arm fractures. Only three hours earlier, he had been severely beaten by a mob of 15 men. They threw him into the river after the attack, but he managed to survive. We have seen pockets of violence targeting individuals," he said.

MSF said it does not support a protracted situation of displacement camps for foreign nationals.

"MSF urges that community reconciliation with South Africans should commence immediately to de-escalate the tensions and reduce fears. This could allow displaced people to safely return to their homes if they wish and ensure that reintegration back into South African society can begin," MSF said.

The South African authorities have the capacity to respond to the current emergency but reconciliation and reintegration efforts must not fall by wayside," said Andrew Mews, MSF head of mission for South Africa and Lesotho. (PNA/Xinhua)

LAM/EBP

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