This Friday, emergency medical humanitarian organization Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) will hand over the Seruka Centre, in Burundi’s capital of Bujumbura, to a local association. For the past six years, the centre has been specializing in the treatment of survivors of sexual violence. “Initiative Seruka pour les victimes de Viol” (Seruka Initiative for Victims of Rape, known locally as ISV) was created in 2008 by Burundi MSF staff members working in the Seruka Centre. “We have covered a great deal of ground since the centre opened in 2004, and it’s time for MSF to hand its activities over,” says Luis Encinas, MSF operational coordinator. “The Seruka Centre has raised awareness of the reality of rape in Burundi and has brought it out of the dark. MSF is passing on an equipped and functioning centre, run by staff trained in the medical and psychological care of victims of sexual violence.” Over these past six years, the Seruka Centre has cared for more than 7,800 people who suffered from sexual violence. The numbers of people attending the centre has now stabilized at around 130 a month. In order to respond to the still significant needs, the centre’s activities will continue through support from the French Cooperation, the United Nations Population Fund, the United Nations Development Fund for Women and the United Nations Children’s Fund. “There is a great deal of work ahead of us, and some difficult challenges to face,” says Christa Josiane Karirengera, coordinator of the Seruka Centre and a member of ISV. “In Burundi, rape is still a reality, and we battle with it through our movement ‘OYA!’ which means ‘NO!’ in Kirundi. Moreover, the Seruka Centre remains the only facility in Burundi offering medical and psychological care for people who have suffered sexual violence.” Patients at the centre currently receive appropriate medical and psychological care, involving treatment of wounds; prevention measures against HIV/AIDS, hepatitis B and sexually transmitted infections; prevention of pregnancy; and psychological support. More than 85 per cent of rape patients now come to the centre within the first 72 hours, following the centre's efforts to inform women about this critical window which allows HIV/AIDS prevention measures to work to their maximum possible effect. MSF has been working in Burundi since 1993. In addition to the Seruka Centre, MSF runs an emergency gynecological-obstetrics centre in Bujumbura Rural province, and continues to respond to medical emergencies in Burundi, including the recent nutritional crisis in Kirundo province and the floods in Buterere commune, in Bujumbura Mairie.
Burundi: MSF hands over program treating rape survivors
Voice from the Field