MSF medical teams often witness violence, atrocities, and neglect in the course of their work, much of which occurs in places that rarely receive international attention. At times, MSF may speak out publicly in an effort to bring a forgotten crisis into view, alert the public to abuses occurring beyond the headlines, criticize the inadequacies of the aid system, challenge the diversion of humanitarian aid for political interests, or call out policies that restrict access to medical care or essential medicines.
For example, in 1985, MSF spoke out against the Ethiopian government's forced displacement of hundreds of thousands of members of its own population. In 1994, the organization took the unprecedented step of calling for an international military response to the 1994 Rwandan genocide. The following year, MSF condemned the Serbian massacre of civilians at Srebrenica, and four years after that, denounced the Russian military bombardment of the Grozny, the capital of Chechnya.
In 2004 and 2005, MSF called on the United Nations Security Council to pay greater attention to the crisis in Darfur. And in 2007, MSF denounced the targeting of civilians in conflict—something that was occurring with greater frequency in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Central African Republic, Chad, and Somalia—and the governments of Thailand and Laos, which were threatening to forcibly return nearly 8,000 Hmong refugees to Laos.
More recently, MSF endeavored to bring greater scrutiny to attempts to restrict the availability of generic medicines for people living with HIV/AIDS and other diseases; the hypocritical stance of nations who send nutrition-deficient products to developing nations and call it food aid; the need for a greater response to child malnutrition across the globe; the tendency to politicize and militarize humanitarian aid, as has happened in Afghanistan and Pakistan; and the inadequate response by governments and the international aid system to, among other issues, the cholera crisis in Haiti, the violence in Central African Republic, the war in Syria, and the refugees created by that war.
MSF medical teams on the ground are in constant dialogue with local authorities, warring parties, and other aid agencies in an attempt to reinforce the organization's operational independence and to facilitate the delivery of the best possible medical care for patients and their communities.