There are more than 65 million people around the world currently displaced from their homes, the highest number since the Second World War. Many are fleeing persecution, poverty and war in their home countries, but are forced by official barriers into underground human-trafficking networks.

Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) delivers humanitarian medical care to many of these people first-hand: to those who have been uprooted by war, are stuck in transit camps or have risked abuse at the hands of people smugglers. Our teams have witnessed the suffering and conflict that have led people to embark on these terrifying journeys — and the humanitarian consequences of the international community's failure to protect their rights and freedoms.

Mediterranean Search-and-Rescue: European government policies condemn people to be locked up in Libya or drown at sea

June 29, 2018 - European governments must come to their senses and end policies which trap extremely vulnerable people in Libya or leave them to die at sea, said the medical humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), as governments gather for the European Council Summit today.

Last week was the deadliest so far this year on the Mediterranean, as at least 220 people drowned. These were avoidable tragedies. European Governments have blocked non-governmental search and rescue operations, while turning over responsibility for rescues to the Libyan coastguard.

European governments are financing, training and equipping the Libyan coastguard to intercept boats in distress and return them to Libya, where they are held in inhumane conditions. In an unprecedented development some 2,000 people were returned to Libya over the course of last weekend. Upon arrival they were sent to arbitrary detention, with no due legal process.

The same European governments that were just a few months ago strongly condemning reports of slave markets in Libya, seem today to have no hesitation in escalating policies that will increase the suffering of people trapped there. People whose only ‘crime’ is that they flee conflict, violence or poverty.

World Refugee Day 2018: US border actions endanger asylum seekers and harm children

The Trump Administration is now dismantling protections enshrined in US and international law designed to protect refugees and asylum seekers. US authorities are now subjecting people who have been the victims of crime, torture, and abuse to even greater harm and suffering—including detaining and forcibly separating children from their families.

Mexico is not safe for the thousands of Central Americans fleeing violence and persecution in their home countries. Due to ever tighter and more callous US border control policies, thousands of vulnerable people are effectively trapped in Mexico, left exposed to further violence by criminal gangs who prey on them.

The Refugee Journey: Faces of Displacement

As an international medical humanitarian organization, Doctors without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) delivers medical care and psychological assistance to vulnerable displaced populations all over the world. We witness the forces driving people from their homes, and the prices they must pay as they try to reach safety and the chance for a better life. The Faces of Displacement photo exhibit shares a few of these personal stories.

Mediterranean Search-and-Rescue: 630 rescuees disembarked in Spain after being turned away from Italy and Malta

After days at sea, 630 people rescued in the Mediterranean sea have been safely disembarked in Valencia, Spain. The Aquarius, a dedicated search and rescue vessel run by SOS MEDITERRANEE in partnership with Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), had been stuck in international waters between Italy and Malta, the countries with the closest ports of safety, but which continued to refuse permission to dock.

This incident draws attention to the collective inaction of the European Union in the face of a dire humanitarian crisis. Dr. David Beverslius, an MSF doctor aboard the Aquarius, calls the European community's indifference "a disgrace and a stain on modern Europe." 

Libya: MSF calls for end to horrific conditions faced by refugees and asylum seekers in abysmal migration detention centres

For more than two years, Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has been providing medical care to refugees, asylum-seekers and migrants held inside Tripoli detention centres in Libya, in conditions that are horrific and inhumane.

Detainees are stripped of any human dignity, suffer ill-treatment and lack access to medical care. Detention is causing harm and unnecessary suffering. It is directly linked to the majority of the physical and mental health problems for which detainees require medical attention. People are held arbitrarily with no way to challenge the legality of their detention, virtually no access to consular services or to the outside world.

With no rule of law in Libya, the detention system is harmful and exploitative. There is a disturbing lack of oversight and regulation. With no formal registration or proper record-keeping in place, once people are inside a detention centre there is no way to track what happens to them. Some people are held for prolonged periods of time; others are transferred between different detention centres, moved to undisclosed locations or disappear overnight.MSF witnesses on a daily basis how much unnecessary harm is being caused by detaining people in these conditions. There is only so much medical teams can do to ease the suffering. MSF calls for an end to the arbitrary detention of refugees, asylum-seekers and migrants in Libya.

'A point of hope in their traumatic journey': A Canadian nurse aboard an MSF search-and-rescue ship

Dominika Wanczyk talks with rescued migrants after an operation that pulled 99 people out of a sinking boat.

Two months ago, Dominika Wanczyk found herself providing comfort to a young girl from Ivory Coast who had recently been rescued from a sinking vessel in the Mediterranean Sea. 

“She had burns on her legs,” recalls Wanczyk. “She told me that while she was in a detention centre for illegal migrants in Libya, guards had attempted to sexually assault her. When she resisted their attempts, they poured scalding hot water on her legs.”

Reflecting on her time onboard the Aquarius, Wanczyk felt privileged to provide hands-on care and bear witness to people's stories. "It was an honour to be a point of hope in their traumatic journey," says Wanczyk. "I was so proud of our crew and team for making an effort to make everyone feel safe and to look after them, even in small gestures of kindness."

 

Follow @MSF_Sea's response to urgent humanitarian needs on the Mediterranean Sea

The @MSF_Sea Twitter account brings you the latest updates from our maritime operations seeking to provide rescue and care people at risk of dying on dangerous migration journeys. 

International Women's Day 2018: Forcibly displaced

More women and girls than ever before are currently forcibly displaced — at last count an estimated 32 million worldwide. Some are still on the move. Needing access to contraception, or a safe place to deliver their baby, support in the wake of sexual violence or to care for their own children, they are no different to any other woman or girl around the world. But displaced, they have significantly greater health challenges, simply because they are women and girls.

In response, Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has scaled up its action to meet them on their way in places as diverse as Tanzania, Bangladesh and Greece—and many others. Across the spectrum of their journeys, displaced women and girls urgently need care in five key areas: obstetric care, family planning, safe abortion care, sexual violence care and mental healthcare. Only then can they have the chance to navigate their health as they search for safety — and reduce the ongoing risk of sickness, suffering and death.

 

MSF Canada's Stephen Cornish on how people fleeing violence in Central America become victims of abuse in Mexico

Today marks the release of a new report by Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) that shines a light on a humanitarian crisis taking place just south of Canada and the United States, along the migration corridor from Central America northward through Mexico. Forced to Flee Central America's Northern Triangle describes how, instead of asylum, people fleeing violence in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras often encounter abuse, extortion and brutality at the hands of criminal networks. 

 

Mexico: No way to safety for people fleeing extreme violence in Central America’s Northern Triangle

Central Americans forced to flee devastating violence in Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador are being re-victimized along the migration route to the United States and Mexico, according to a report released today by the medical humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontieres (MSF).

 

The global migration crisis will be a test of Canada's humanity: MSF Canada's Stephen Cornish

"We must not turn our back on our collective responsibility to welcome refugees with dignity, to extend and review individual asylum claims on their merits and, where the latter is lacking, to ensure returnees are only sent back home or to third countries where it is safe to do so. As Canadians, we must open our eyes to the fact that our government already manages our border’s through a complex system of interdiction."

MSF denounces widespread violence against migrants and refugees at the Serbian-Hungarian border

From January 2016 to February 2017, MSF treated 106 cases of injuries allegedly perpetrated by Hungarian border patrols. All cases treated by MSF teams follow similar patterns of violence, including injuries caused by beating (54 cases), dog bites (24 cases), irritations caused by tear gas and pepper spray (15 cases) and other injuries (35 cases).  Such abuse did not exclude vulnerable people such as unaccompanied minors: out of 106 cases, 22 were below 18 years old.  

Dying to reach Europe: Insights into Eritreans' desperate journeys to safety

The dangerous journeys that tens of thousands of Eritreans are making across desert and sea to reach Europe are a striking example of how restrictive migration policies are having a devastating impact on people seeking safety outside their countries of origin, says Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) in a new report. Dying to Reach Europe: Eritreans in Search of Safety is based on the first-hand testimonies of refugees who have fled the small but highly militarized east African country, reporting a lack of freedom and forced military conscription for years or even decades. Defectors are at risk of being rounded up, imprisoned, tortured or killed.

“Ninety per cent of Eritreans who manage to reach Europe via land and sea are granted asylum. European governments recognize their claims as genuine, but despite this are doing all they can to prevent them and others seeking asylum from reaching EU shores,” said Arjan Hehenkamp, MSF General Director.

'Some people don't survive': A Canadian MSF nurse on delivering care to people fleeing violence in Iraq

Many people who are forcibly displaced by war and other catastrophes often flee to refuge within the borders of their own country.  

Mariko Miller, an MSF emergency nurse, witnessed the suffering of survivors who managed to escape from the war-torn district of Hawija to the relative safety of Kirkuk in northern Iraq.

 

The Less-Told Migration Story and its Humanitarian Consequences: A Special Report from MSF Canada

A new report from Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) Canada by Sonal Marwah, a Researcher on forced migration and refugee issues, former MSF Canada Executive Director Stephen Cornish and MSF Canada Humanitarian Affairs Advisor Carol Devine looks at the human impact of our current global approach to migrants and refugees.

Childbirth on the Mediterranean: Meet Divan, delivered on-board an MSF boat after his mother was rescued at sea, October 18, 2015

Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) midwife Astrid Börjesson describes how she helped deliver a new baby boy last Sunday to a woman who was among the 240 people rescued by the Dignity I, an MSF search-and-rescue ship in the Mediterranean Sea. The 25-year-old woman gave birth to her son, named Divan, after enduring a terrible journey from Cameroon to Libya and on to the Mediterranean Sea in search of hope and safety.