Stand With Refugees

20 Jun 2019

There are now 68.5 million forced from home around the world - more than at any time in modern history. These are people who have fled extreme dangers, whether to escape relentless bombing, an invading army, gang violence, or other life-threatening circumstances.

We provide medical care to refugees and displaced people all over the world. Our teams work in conflict zones where millions of people have been uprooted - including in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, South Sudan, and Democratic Republic of Congo. In Europe and the Americas, we are providing care along some of the world’s most dangerous and deadly migration routes. And we're caring for large numbers of displaced people in the world’s leading host countries for refugees, including Pakistan, Bangladesh, Lebanon, Uganda, and Ethiopia.

"I was held in a detention centre in Libya. Men and women altogether in the same large room. Sometimes they would come and take one of the young girls. We prayed to God that they would be brought back." - P.O., 27 years old, Nigeria. Photo: Giuseppe La Rosa/MSF

Increasingly, people on the move are trying to survive not just the harrowing challenges of migration itself, but the harmful deterrence policies put in place by governments trying to keep out migrants and asylum seekers at all costs.

What we have witnessed in 2019 is that governments are making that journey increasingly dangerous and cruel.
Paul McPhun
Executive Director MSF Australia

In the United States, Australia, across Europe, and around the world, refugees are increasingly not welcome. Some of the richest countries in the world are abandoning their international legal obligations and longstanding commitments to protect refugees and asylum seekers. Many governments are criminalizing migration, scapegoating refugees, and declaring that their countries are closed to asylum seekers. People seeking safety are being treated like criminals—and so are individuals and organizations providing lifesaving humanitarian aid.


In recent months, MSF’s lifesaving humanitarian assistance has been blocked in places like Nauru and the Mediterranean Sea as a direct result of government policies of deterrence.


Meanwhile, asylum seekers and refugees are pushed back and contained in low- and middle-income countries, where they often struggle to access the adequate care they need. Increasingly, the world’s wealthiest nations are providing financial support and other incentives to countries willing to host refugees. This is converting international aid, which should be allocated on the basis of needs, into a tool for migration control.


Nunahar and her husband Abdul fled to Bangladesh after their eldest child, Irshadullah was shot dead in Myanmar in 2017. They currently live in a refugee camp in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. Photo: Nitin George/MSF

Myanmar is my homeland, that's where all ancestors are buried. You can all go home, but I cannot, we have to stay in a small hut in a camp. I dream of my home when I sleep. One day we will return to Myanmar or maybe some other country where there is peace.



What often gets lost in the heated political debates around migration are the human beings whose lives have been upended by extreme violence or persecution.

On World Refugee Day, MSF is featuring Stories of Survival, a collection of video testimonies and first-hand accounts from people who have risked everything for a chance at safety. As an organization working with refugees and people on the move, we know that nothing—not a wall, or even an ocean—will ever stop people who are simply trying to survive.