Violence Halts MSF Mental Health Activities in Indian Region

Médecins Sans Frontières has stopped its mental health aid projects in Jammu and Kashmir following increasing violence and a round-the-clock curfew in the northern Indian state. Photo by: Rafaellebrustia / CC BY-NC-SA RafaellebrustiaCC BY-NC-SA

International organization Médecins Sans Frontières has halted its projects on mental health due to increasing violence and a round-the-clock curfew imposed Sept. 19 in India’s northern state of Jammu and Kashmir.

MSF counselors have been conducting medical missions in the region since February, visiting people in hospitals and giving “mental health first aid” to those traumatized by the continuing skirmishes there.

The worsening security situation has forced MSF staff and hospital personnel to discontinue counseling services and psychological treatments. Violence escalated in June as clashes between Kashmiri youth and Indian security forces became more regular and intense, according to an article published in the MSF website.

“MSF is extremely concerned about how this deteriorating situation will significantly affect people and their mental health,” said Martin Sloot, head of mission for MSF in India. “Our national staff has been confined to their homes. We have relocated our international staff to a safer place.”

Fighting between radical groups and Indian government forces has been ongoing since 1989, with civilians getting caught in the cross fire. Both sides have been accused of committing serious human rights abuses against ordinary folk. Thousands of civilians have disappeared and tens of thousands have been killed, says the article.

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    Louie-An Pilapil

    Louie-An is a former senior development analyst at Devex Manila. She has held consulting and editorial positions at the Asian Development Bank in Manila and a business-to-business media company in Hong Kong and mainland China.