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Doctors Without Borders kickstarts second film festival in Singapore

The international medical humanitarian organisation Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) officially launched its second “Doctors Without Borders Film Festival” in Singapore on Friday (3 August), giving audiences a fascinating insight into aid workers in action and the dangers they face.

The film festival takes place at the independent cinema The Projector from 3 – 5 August.

Expected to draw crowds are five critically-acclaimed documentaries: “Affliction” follows the organisation’s struggle during the 2014 - 2015 Ebola outbreak in West Africa; “Living in Emergency” follows four doctors providing emergency medical care in extreme conditions; “Frontline Doctors: Winter Migrant Crisis” reveals the arduous and stressful journey through Europe undertaken by countless migrants and refugees; Al Jazeera’s “Afghanistan: Medics Under Fire” highlights the US airstrike in 2015 that destroyed MSF’s trauma hospital in Kunduz; and, “TB: Return of the Plague” portrays the tragic yet heartwarming human stories of tuberculosis (TB) patients in Swaziland, southern Africa.

Each screening will be followed by sharing sessions with Singapore-based field workers of Doctors Without Borders. They will talk about their experiences and answer questions from the audience.

Doctors Without Borders is an international medical humanitarian aid organization that provides free, quality medical assistance to populations in crisis. MSF currently operates relief activities in over 70 countries around the world, and was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1999 in recognition of its independence, impact and impartiality in the delivery of vital humanitarian aid.

Dr. Natasha Reyes, the Interim Executive Director for MSF Hong Kong officially opened the film festival for public viewing in the presence of representatives from Singapore’s public health sector, non-government organisations, and the media. She will also be one of the field workers who will be sharing her personal experiences after one of the screenings.

“As we watch the trials of vulnerable people on the move in Europe, let us not forget the refugees in other parts of the world.  We don't have to look too far from home, Asia Pacific has 7.7 million refugees, IDPs and stateless people. 900,000 of those are in Cox's Bazaar in Bangladesh," said Dr. Reyes.

" I was working in those camps in September last year, right after the massive influx of Rohingya from Bangladesh in August.  The sheer magnitude of needs was like nothing I had ever seen before – food, shelter, medical care, mental health support.  We're hitting the one-year mark since the influx, and the crisis is not over," she added, referring to the film “Frontline Doctors: Winter Migrant Crisis”.

The film festival, which is open to the public for free, has been very well-received, with tickets snapped up shortly after being released on Eventbrite.

"We hope the screenings will lead you to better understand the mission and vision of MSF. More importantly, we hope that we will inspire you here in Singapore to join us and/or support us in the work that we do," said Dr. Reyes.