Colombia

Colombia: MSF provides mental health support to those affected by the attack in the Timba district, in the Cauca region

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Psychological consultation in Cauca department, Colombia, in 2012. MSF is one of the few international medical-humanitarian organizations that provides primary and mental healthcare in some of the regions most affected by conflict. During 2012, its teams ran mobile clinics and permanent and semi-permanent health posts in Cauca, Nariño, Caquetá and Putumayo. © MSF/Anna Surinyach

A mobile team from Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is in the Timba district, in the municipality of Buenos Aires in the Cauca region of southwest Colombia, assisting the local population after a confrontation in which 10 soldiers died early on Wednesday morning.

Timba is located one hour from La Esperanza, where the incident occurred and where a second team of two psychologists and a doctor hopes to get to this afternoon to assess the needs of the local population if humanitarian access is possible.

“The incident has happened in a well-populated rural neighbourhood, so the impact on mental health in the civil population could be significant”, explains Pierre Garrigou, MSF Head of Mission in Colombia. “There could also be people who have been displaced and have psychological and medical needs to attend to”.

Despite the reduction in the intensity of the conflict, the international aid organization keeps three teams of psychologists in this region. “Our mobile teams are always ready to respond immediately to sudden events in rural areas, where mental health is not offered in primary health centers”, adds Garrigou.

This is the most serious armed incident since the start of the truce in December and coincides with the peace negotiations the government and FARC guerrillas are currently holding in Havana.