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27 Dec 17 27 Dec 17

Thank you for your support in 2017: A letter from MSF Canada's Executive Director Joseph Belliveau

Thank you!

As the new Executive Director of Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) Canada, I wish to share my sincere gratitude and appreciation to each of our supporters across Canada.

My MSF career began nearly 18 years ago as a field logistician in a refugee camp in Zambia. It was in that camp, supporting our doctors, nurses and nutritionists, that I first experienced the profound impact that a handful of skilled aid workers can have on the health and wellbeing of people caught in crisis. Since then, I’ve worked in many other projects across Africa and Asia, assisting people severely affected by war, repression and natural disasters. I’d like to thank you, wholeheartedly, for making that work possible.

Over the past year, MSF continued to be on the front lines of humanitarian crises across the globe. We mounted a huge response in Yemen, where indiscriminate bombings reduced civilian neighbourhoods to rubble and left large parts of the population on the verge of starvation and struggling to survive.

MSF also assisted many thousands of people caught in or attempting to pass through countries like Sudan and Libya in the hopes of reaching safe havens in Europe. Many have fallen prey to the human smugglers, extortionists, criminal gangs and authorities who frequently detain and abuse them, and deprive them of sufficient food and medical care.

In Bangladesh, we rapidly scaled up our response when hundreds of thousands of people, members of Myanmar’s Rohingya ethnic minority, crossed the border while fleeing extreme and sustained state-organized violence against them in their home country. I worked with MSF in Myanmar and I know first-hand just how outrageously the Rohingya have been treated and how vulnerable these people are. I’ll never forget talking to a Rohingya father whose sick and malnourished child was receiving care from MSF. I can only imagine the desperation that man must have felt, or the indignity that he and so many others are living through.  

In 2018, MSF teams will continue to provide humanitarian medical care to people on the run, who are caught up in armed conflict, or who have been cut off from healthcare by persecution and neglect. We are in the process of returning to and scaling up medical aid in Somalia, after deliberate attacks on our staff forced us to withdraw more than four years ago. At that time, I was managing our program in Somalia, and I know just how vital our health services were to thousands of people. As our teams boldly re-expand their medical efforts in Somalia, they are backed by cutting-edge telemedicine technology that links them with medical specialists from around the world. I’m proud to say that MSF’s Telemedicine Program has been developed using Canadian expertise and is based here in our Toronto office.

Unfortunately, 2018 will likely see some new humanitarian crises emerge, in addition to those we already face. People will continue to suffer the impact of wars, persecution and environmental disasters, but their situations are not hopeless. MSF’s teams are absolutely committed to getting to where those people are, to providing them with the highest quality emergency medical care, and to standing by them, listening to them and calling the world’s attention to their needs.

Without you by our side, we could not give medical aid to those who need our help the most. You help us continue to provide medical care and restore dignity to people caught in crises wherever they may be.

On behalf of our whole organization, we are grateful.

Happy holidays and the best in 2018!


Joseph Belliveau

Executive Director, Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) Canada

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