France 1971 © D.R
Médecins Sans Frontières is Founded
A group of French doctors and journalists creates MSF in the wake of the war and accompanying famine in Biafra, Nigeria, and the floods in eastern Pakistan (now Bangladesh).
Cambodia 1979 © MSF
Cambodians Flee Khmer Rouge
MSF establishes in its first large-scale medical program during a refugee crisis, providing medical care for waves of Cambodians seeking sanctuary from Pol Pot’s rule.
France 1971 © D.R
War in Lebanon
MSF conducts surgery in the organization’s first major response in a war zone.
Zimbabwe 1981 © MSF
Competing Visions Lead to a Split at MSF
Led by Dr. Claude Malhuret and Dr. Francis Charhon, MSF moves beyond its modus operandi of sending isolated doctors to crisis zones in favor of creating a more structured organization that can provide quality medical services in crises. Co-founder Dr. Bernard Kouchner leaves in protest and later founds Médecins du Monde/Doctors of the World.
Afghanistan 1980 © MSF
War in Afghanistan
After the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in the final days of 1979, triggering a war that would last a decade, MSF medical teams clandestinely cross the Pakistani–Afghan border and travel by mule for several weeks to reach injured civilians living in remote areas.
MSF offices open in Belgium and Switzerland.
Ethiopia 1984 © Sebastiao Salgado/Amazonas Images
Famine in Ethiopia
MSF starts programs to treat malnutrition in hunger-stricken regions of the country.
MSF Holland Opens
A new MSF office is established in Amsterdam.
Ethiopia 1985 © expat
Ethiopian Government Expels MSF
MSF is ordered to halt its activities after speaking out against the government’s misuse of aid to forcibly relocate millions of its people, resulting in tens of thousands of deaths.
Honduras 1985 © Jean Gaumy/Magnum
Conflict in Central America
MSF provides medical care in Honduras to refugees fleeing armed conflicts in El Salvador and Nicaragua.
Sri Lanka 1987 © Didier Lefevre / imagesandco.com
Civil War in Sri Lanka
MSF organizes mobile clinics and hospital programs to treat citizens injured and traumatized in the fight between the government and the Tamil Tigers.
MSF opens offices in Luxembourg and Spain.
Armenia 1988 © MSF
Earthquake in Armenia
MSF provides medical care in the Soviet Union for the first time.
MSF Opens First Mental Health Programs
MSF brings mental health support to survivors of the Armenian earthquake and the following year starts mental health programs for people in the Palestinian Territories.
Soviet Bloc Falls
MSF begins programs in response to deteriorating health systems across what had been the Soviet Union.
MSF-USA is Created
MSF opens an office in New York City, its first outside Europe. A year later, offices open in Canada and Italy as well, and the International Office is formed, based in Geneva.
Civil War in Liberia
MSF provides emergency care at the height of the fighting.
Somalia 1992 © John Reardon
Civil War in Somalia
MSF runs surgical programs in war-stricken Mogadishu and aids refugees in neighboring countries.
Kurdish Refugees Flee Northern Iraq
In its largest emergency response to date, MSF provides care in Turkey, Iran, and Jordan to Kurds driven from their homes by the advancing Iraqi army.
War in Bosnia
MSF runs medical and mental health programs in the region and provides assistance in the UN’s supposed “protected zones” of Gorazde and Srebrenica.
Somalia 1992 © Remco Bohle
Famine in Somalia
MSF alerts the international community to widespread famine and opens programs to treat malnourished children and adults.
Afghanistan 1993 © MSF
Civil War in Afghanistan
As a vicious civil war takes hold in the country and the capital, MSF continues working in Afghanistan, constantly negotiating with the fighting parties to move material into the country and to get access to those in need of medical care.
Burundi 1994 © Wim Van Cappellen
Civil War in Burundi
MSF aids civilians in Burundi and refugees in Tanzania and Rwanda.
Rwanda 1994 © MSF
Genocide in Rwanda
MSF remains in the capital, Kigali, throughout the genocide of more than 800,000 Tutsis and “moderate” Hutus by Hutu extremists, and makes the unprecedented decision to call for international military intervention.
D.R. of Congo 1994 © Howard J. Davies/UNHCR
Crisis in Goma, Zaire (now Democratic Republic of Congo)
MSF withdraws its staff from refugee camps in Zaire and Tanzania, and denounces the hijacking of humanitarian aid by the perpetrators of the genocide who are controlling the camps.
Bosnia Hercegovina 1995 © Olivier Jobard/Sipa Press
MSF witnesses the fall of the UN “protected zone,” and speaks out against the subsequent massacre of some 8,000 Bosnians and the mass deportation and abuse of many thousands more by Serbian troops.
War in Chechnya
MSF brings medical aid to civilians uprooted by war and living in precarious conditions in the Russian Republics of Chechnya and Ingushetia, and in neighboring Georgia.
MSF Movement Grows
MSF-Norway is founded, joining additional MSF offices in Austria, Australia, Denmark, Hong Kong, Japan, Germany, Greece, Sweden, and the UK.
Nigeria 1996 © Remco Bohle
Meningitis Epidemic in Nigeria
MSF vaccinates more than 4 million people against meningitis and creates special centers to treat thousands more who become infected in a massive epidemic outbreak.
D.R. of Congo 1997 © Corinne Dufka/Reuters
Rwandan Refugees Seek Aid
MSF assists Rwandan refugees forced out of camps in Zaire as they return home but is blocked by the Rwandan army and allied Congolese rebels from assisting many of those fleeing further into Zaire—people who fall victim to widespread massacres.
Brazil 1997 © Marleen Daniels
Street Children Neglected in Madagascar, Brazil, and the Philippines
MSF expands its medical and social programs in several countries to include marginalized youth.
Famine in North Korea
Unable to ensure that medical aid is reaching those most at risk of malnutrition, MSF is forced to pull out of North Korea after three years, but continues to assist North Korean refugees who have fled to China.
Sudan 1998 © Paul Lowe/Magnum
Famine in Southern Sudan
MSF responds to widespread famine caused by civil war and drought in Bahr-el-Ghazal province.
Honduras 1998 © Larry Towell
MSF assists victims in Honduras, Nicaragua, Guatemala, and El Salvador.
D.R. of Congo 1997 © Kadir van Lohuizen / Noor
Civil War in Republic of Congo (Brazzaville)
After encountering numerous victims of sexual violence, MSF changes its emergency response protocols to integrate treatment for victims of rape and sexual assault.
Georgia 2003 © Simon Lourie
MSF Launches Access to Essential Medicines Campaign
With millions of people dying every year from treatable infectious diseases, MSF starts an international effort to push for increased access to medicines for the world’s poor.
MSF Awarded Nobel Peace Prize
MSF is honored for its “pioneering humanitarian work on several continents.”
Albania 1999 © MSF
Crisis in Kosovo
MSF provides medical care to displaced civilians in Kosovo and in refugee camps in Albania, Macedonia, and Montenegro, as well as to civilians in Serbia.
Russia Chechnya 1999 © Olivier Jobard/Sipa Press
Second War in Chechnya
MSF calls on Russian forces to grant humanitarian organizations access to the city of Grozny and denounces the aerial bombardment of civilians by the Russian Air Force.
Sierra Leone 2000 © Black Star
Civil War in Sierra Leone
MSF treats victims of the country’s brutal civil war.
Belgium 2001 © Marina Cox
Aid to Asylum Seekers In Europe
MSF expands its programs assisting asylum seekers and undocumented immigrants in Belgium, France, Italy, and Spain.
Guatemala 2002 © Juan Carlos Tomasi
The HIV/AIDS Pandemic
MSF starts providing antiretroviral therapy to people living with HIV/AIDS in Thailand, and the following year opens projects in Cambodia, Cameroon, Guatemala, Kenya, Malawi, and South Africa, primarily using generic antiretroviral medicines.
Sri Lanka 2002 © Marco van Hal
Trauma Counseling in Colombia, Sierra Leone, Sri Lanka, and Beyond
MSF increasingly includes mental health activities in its emergency responses around the world.
Afghanistan 2001 © Francois Calas/MSF
US-Led Coalition Invades Afghanistan
Following 9/11, MSF briefly evacuates many members of its international staff from Taliban-held areas, relying on Afghan staff to keep medical programs running in the initial phases of the US-led invasion. By November, however, international staff returns and programs continue.
Angola 2002 © Sergio Cecchini
Famine in Angola
After the UNITA rebel army collapses and a 28-year civil war comes to an end, MSF treats thousands of malnourished children in areas previously inaccessible to humanitarian aid. MSF denounces the UN for prioritizing a political settlement for post-conflict Angola over the distribution of much-needed humanitarian assistance.
Russian Federation 2003 © Michael Yassukovich
Aid Workers Under Attack
MSF’s Arjan Erkel is abducted in the Russian Republic of Dagestan in the North Caucasus, the most recent victim of increasing dangers faced by aid workers in conflict zones worldwide. It will be 20 months before he is released.
Burundi 2003 © Ian Berry/Magnum Photos
Malaria Killing Millions in Africa
As malaria in several countries shows increased resistance to common antimalarials like chloroquine, MSF increases its use of artemisinin-based combination therapy and pushes for wider availability of the treatment.
Iraq 2003 © Kevin Phelan/MSF
US Invades Iraq
MSF remains in Baghdad during the initial invasion, providing support to hospitals and clinics in selected cities. Later, MSF challenges the US government both for co-opting some aid agencies into the war effort and also for failing to uphold its responsibilities as an occupying power, as mandated by international humanitarian law, to provide adequate medical assistance to civilians.
Liberia 2003 © Francois Dominguez
Heavy Fighting in the Liberian Capital
During fierce fighting between government and rebel troops in Monrovia, MSF assists thousands of displaced people and creates makeshift emergency hospitals at the MSF residences.
D.R. of Congo 2003 © Alixandra Fazzina
Civilians Suffer in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)
MSF continues to operate and expand a host of medical programs designed to provide emergency medical care for people caught in a conflict that has claimed millions of lives but still remains practically invisible to the outside world.
Ethiopia 2006 © François Dumaine / EUP
Drugs for Neglected Diseases Initiative (DNDi) Created
MSF is a founding partner in a new non-profit organization dedicated to developing medicines for neglected diseases such as Chagas, kala azar, and sleeping sickness, and to challenging the existing profit-driven structure for research and development.
Sudan 2004 © MSF/Kris Torgeson
Emergency in Darfur, Sudan
MSF starts nutritional programs, water-and-sanitation programs, clinics, and vaccination campaigns in western Sudan and Chad, where hundreds of thousands of people have fled violence targeted against them, in what is to become in 2005 and 2006 one of the largest emergency responses in MSF’s history.
Five MSF Aid Workers Murdered in Afghanistan
Fasil Ahmad, Besmillah, Hélène de Bier, Pim Kwint, and Egil Tynaes are assassinated in Badghis Province. MSF leaves Afghanistan, after providing assistance for 20 years.
MSF Leaves Iraq
With humanitarian aid workers increasingly under attack, MSF decides that the level of risk to its staff is unacceptable and makes the difficult decision to close its medical programs.
Indonesia 2005 © Francesco Zizola / Noor
Tsunami Hits South Asia
MSF receives $133 million from the public and asks people to stop making donations for the crisis, having received more funding than needed for its medical programs in the region. MSF also asks donors to "derestrict" donations so they can be used for other emergencies; the vast majority agrees.
Niger 2005 © Stephan Oberreit / MSF
Nutritional Crisis in Niger
Drawing on derestricted funds that came in following the tsunami, MSF responds to an overlooked and neglected malnutrition crisis in Niger, treating 63,000 severely malnourished children on an outpatient basis with a new therapeutic ready-to-use-food, the first time it has used this treatment protocol on such a massive scale. MSF subsequently revises its guidelines for treating malnutrition to include this innovative approach.
Haiti 2006 © Sergio Cecchini/MSF
Civilians Under Fire in Haiti's Capital
MSF provides surgical, primary, and mental health care to people caught in the violence gripping Port-au-Prince, treating thousands of gunshot, machete, and knife wounds, and calls for all armed groups to respect the safety of civilians.
Pakistan 2005 © Bruno Stevens / Cosmos
Devastating Earthquake Hits South Asia
MSF runs mobile clinics to reach people trapped in remote villages and sets up inflatable surgical tents to treat thousands of people injured in the massive earthquake that hit the Kashmir region of Pakistan and India.
Jordan 2007 © Jiro Ose
Surgical Care for Victims of War in Iraq
Unable to work safely in Iraq, MSF sets up a reconstructive surgical program in Amman, Jordan to treat severely war-wounded patients referred by medical colleagues in Iraq.
Angola 2007 © MSF
Massive Cholera Outbreak in Angola
MSF treats 26,000 people and sends more than 400 tons of supplies to respond to a cholera outbreak that spreads from the capital to more than half the country.
Sri Lanka 2007 © Henk Braam
Sri Lanka Returns to War
As tens of thousands of people flee renewed fighting in the north of the country, MSF reopens surgical programs in north and central Sri Lanka after facing a series of setbacks from the authorities.
France 2007 © DNDi
A New Treatment for Malaria
The Drugs for Neglected Diseases Initiative and the pharmaceutical company sanofi-aventis launch ASAQ, an inexpensive and easy-to-use combination pill. ASAQ is not patented, allowing for others to produce it at lower cost.
India 2007 © Michel Lotrowska/MSF
Pharmaceutical Companies Attempt to Block Access to Essential Medicines
MSF campaigns against Novartis for its legal challenge to Indian patent law in order to protect the production of low-cost generic medicines. India supplies MSF with 80 percent of the antiretrovirals needed for 100,000 patients worldwide. In August, the Indian courts rule against Novartis.
Somalia 2007 © Juan Carlos Tomasi
Conflict Grips Somalia
Hundreds of thousands of civilians flee the capital, Mogadishu, as the worst fighting in 15 years erupts throughout the city. Amid great insecurity, MSF sets up a surgical program in Mogadishu, provides assistance to some of those displaced, and maintains medical programs in the rest of the country.
The Access to Essential Medicines Campaign Takes On Malnutrition
With the proven success of ready-to-use food in treating severely and moderately malnourished children, MSF campaigns for others in the field to scale up their programs and to adopt similar protocols. MSF pushes for food aid and nutritional programs to include ingredients that are appropriate for the most vulnerable children—those between six months and two years of age.
Iraq 2008 © Valerie Babize / MSF
MSF Returns to Iraq
MSF sets up surgical programs in Iraqi Kurdistan to treat wounded civilians unable to receive adequate care in overwhelmed, under-staffed, and under-equipped hospitals in other areas of Iraq and continues to supply hospitals with medicines and equipment.
Chad 2007 © Marcus Bleasdale
Crisis Unfolds in Chad
More than 150,000 displaced people attempt to survive in makeshift camps in eastern Chad as fighting escalates between government and rebel groups. MSF scales up its medical programs and calls for a massive international humanitarian response.
Kenya 2008 © © William Martin / MSF
Political Unrest in Kenya Displaces Thousands
MSF treats wounded civilians in the shanty towns of the capital, Nairobi, and assists displaced Kenyans in makeshift camps who flee to the west of the country after disputed presidential elections lead to widespread violence.
MSF Aid Workers Killed in Somalia
Mohamed Abdi Ali (Bidhaan), Damian Lehalle, and Victor Okumu are killed when a deliberately-placed roadside bomb hits the MSF vehicle they are traveling in. MSF withdraws all international staff from the country and continues to run reduced programs with Somali staff.
Democratic Republic of Congo 2009 © Vanessa Vick
Violence Escalates against Civilians in Democratic Republic of Congo
MSF runs mobile clinics, surgical programs, nutritional programs, and provides treatment and counseling for victims of sexual violence as thousands of Congolese in North Kivu flee increased and repeated attacks on their villages by armed groups.
Myanmar 2008 © Eyal Warshawski
Cyclone Hits Myanmar
MSF staff already working in the country provides assistance to thousands of people displaced by the cyclone while the government stalls on allowing additional staff to enter the country.
South Africa 2008 © Erin Trieb
Xenophobic Violence Uproots Tens of Thousands in South Africa
MSF provides medical assistance to thousands of Zimbabweans and other foreign African nationals when angry gangs attack them, killing 62 people and sending 100,000 more in search of safety. MSF speaks out against the inadequate response of both the South African government and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.
Ethiopia 2008 © MSF
Nutritional Crisis in Ethiopia
MSF treats more than 72,000 malnourished children as a massive nutritional crisis sweeps the south of the country as a result of drought, poor harvests, and soaring food prices.
Zimbabwe 2008 © Joanna Stravropoulou
Fighting Cholera in Zimbabwe
After an cholera outbreak starts in August, MSF treats more than 65,000 people suffering from the disease over the next 10 months while also supporting government-run facilities with supplies, staff incentive payments, and treatment programs.
Palestinian Authority 2009 © Warrick Page
Conflict in Gaza
MSF supports hospitals in Gaza following an Israeli offensive launched to counter militants firing crude rockets into Israel. After a ceasefire is announced, MSF opens a surgical hospital and also offers post-operative and psychological care.
Pakistan 2009 © Jodi Bieber
Chaos in Pakistan’s Tribal Regions
Amid worsening violence and widespread displacement in Pakistan’s northern provinces, MSF provides emergency care at 12 sites. Security remains a constant concern, however, and some work is suspended after two staff members are killed in the Swat District.
Afghanistan 2009 © Pascale Zintzen /MSF
MSF Re-Opens Programs in Afghanistan
Following a five year absence (see 2004), the organization returns to the country and begins supporting hospitals in Kabul and in Lashkargah, the capital of Helmand Province.
Sudan 2009 © Jenn Warren
A Difficult Year in Sudan
MSF launches emergency interventions in the south in response to escalating violence and outbreaks, while, in Darfur, the government expels two sections and four staff members are kidnapped. Some projects are therefore closed, but MSF nonetheless provides nearly 129,000 consultations and supports numerous local health centers.
Haiti 2010 © Julie Remy
Earthquake in Haiti
After a massive earthquake hits Haiti on January 12, MSF launches one of its largest ever interventions, expanding its projects in the country from 3 to a high of 26, treating more than 173,757 patients, and performing more than 11,748 surgeries in the five months that follow.
Pakistan 2010 © Andrew McConnell
Flooding Submerges Pakistan
MSF responds to massive floods in Pakistan by expanding existing programs and establishing new ones in areas the organization hadn’t worked previously. By December, teams had tended to more than 80,000 patients and distributed nearly 2 million liters of clean water, along with almost 65,000 relief kits.
Burkina Faso, 2009 © Jessica Dimmock/VII Network
MSF and VII Launch ''Starved For Attention''
MSF and the VII photo agency launch the "Starved For Attention
" multimedia campaign on global malnutrition. The ongoing exhibition, which has already been staged in the US, Europe, and Africa, highlighted the often overlooked global scourge of malnutrition, its lethal impact on children in particular, and some innovative practices employed by MSF and others to combat it
Nigeria 2010 © John Heeneman/MSF
Lead Poisoning In Nigeria
MSF teams carrying out measles vaccinations in Nigeria respond to reports of a mysterious illness that has killed dozens of children in a remote town, deducing upon their arrival that lead poisoning is the culprit and beginning the organization’s first ever lead poisoning response.
Haiti 2010 © Moises Saman/Magnum
Cholera Strikes Haiti
In October, after cholera hits Haiti, MSF mobilizes hundreds of staff members to respond, eventually opening more than 50 cholera treatment centers across the country, launching widespread public education campaigns, and tending to more than 100,000 patients—more than 60 percent of all cases in the country—in the months that followed.
Niger 2009 © Guillaume Ratel
MSF Supports Use of New Meningitis A Vaccine
In December, MSF teams in Mali and Niger support the Ministries of Health in those countries to implement a promising new and longer-lasting vaccine for meningitis A, which is viewed as an important step towards preventing the outbreaks of the disease that have plagued the region for ages.
DRC 2006 © Spencer Platt / Getty Images
Treating Victims of Mass Rape in DRC
In the first few weeks of the year, MSF responds to two incidents of mass rape in the Democratic Republic of Congo, treating, all told, more than 100 women, children, and men for sexual assault after they were attacked by militias operating in the area.