2023: Photos from a year of crisis and survival

A look at some of the lives touched by MSF projects around the world

An Afghan young woman in a red headscarf holds her child in a red shirt against a dark background.

Afghanistan 2023 © Nava Jamshidi

Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is responding to emergencies and acute health needs in more than 70 countries.

This year our teams have seen unbearable suffering–from the wars in Gaza, Sudan, and Ukraine, to the impact of earthquakes in Turkey, Syria, and Afghanistan, to the ongoing challenges facing migrants and refugees around the world. They have also witnessed moving scenes that reflect our shared humanity and provide some glimmers of hope in a world that can seem terribly dark.      

This collection of photographs provides a look into the lives of people facing crisis and catastrophe–and surviving. 

January
MSF staff unload supplies at Rhoe displacement site in Ituri, Democratic Republic of Congo.
DRC 2023 © Philomène Franssen/MSF

MSF cargo is unloaded from a plane at Rhoe camp, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), where around 70,000 internally displaced people live in dire conditions.

A trans woman asylum seeker in a pink outfit stands on a balcony in Greece looking down at the street.
Greece 2023 © Maro Verli/MSF

“The trans people from my community in general are very, very happy [with MSF] because number one, they have translators in Spanish," said Yuli*, an asylum seeker in Greece. "MSF doctors aren’t interested in whether you are [legally] recognized, if you are an asylum seeker, if you are from Cuba, if you are from Congo. They explain the medical process. They have a lot of patience."

February
Syrians dig through the rubble left by the earthquake in northwest Syria in 2023.
Syria 2023 © Omar Haj Kadour

Syrians dig through the rubble left by the catastrophic earthquakes that hit Turkey and northwest Syria on February 6, 2023. 

The doorway of an MSF mobile clinic in northwestern Syria after the earthquake.
Syria 2023 © Omar Haj Kadour

Following the February earthquakes, MSF’s mobile clinics in Syria provided medical care in a temporary shelter camp in the city of Salqin.

MSF staff stand in a circle at the mobile clinic in Bel Air, Haiti
MSF's mobile clinic team holds a briefing in Delmas 48 last year. Haiti 2023 © Alexandre Marcou/MSF

Project Coordinator Diana Manilla Arroyo and Medical Referent Roger Ngueremi brief MSF’s mobile clinic team about security conditions before the group leaves for Bel Air, a neighborhood located in the center of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, which has been wracked by extreme violence.

A band plays at the opening of an MSF maternal health clinic in Haiti.
Haiti 2023 © Alexandre Marcou/MSF

A band plays at the reopening of a maternal health clinic in Port-à-Piment, Haiti, which had been destroyed in the 2021 earthquake. MSF rebuilt and upgraded the facility, restoring access to maternal care for 250,000 people in the community.

A young Syrian refugee child lies on the floor with her toys around her in Lebanon.
Lebanon 2023 © Carmen Yahchouchi/MSF

Siwar, a Syrian refugee, with her insulin pen and her toys in her family's makeshift home in Arsal, northern Lebanon. Siwar was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at a young age and visits the MSF clinic in town for treatment. 

Two patients of a mobile clinic in Pervomaiske village, Mykolaiv Oblast, Ukraine.

Ukraine 2023 © Laurel Chor/MSF

Interior of the home of a Ukrainian couple who allowed MSF to use it as a mobile clinic in Kherson.

Ukraine 2023 © Laurel Chor/MSF

Natalia Chorna and Valeriy Chorny allowed MSF to use their home in Posad-Pokrovske, a village in Ukraine’s Kherson region, for consultations in late 2022. We visited them again in 2023. “There was no network, so it was very difficult for us to contact Natalia," said Robin Ehret, MSF project coordinator. Natalia lit tires on fire so the MSF team could find her. 

A man boxes in a room in Mexico.
Mexico 2023 © Nuria López Torres

Mauricio works off some energy by boxing at MSF’s treatment center for survivors of extreme violence and torture in Mexico City. Many migrants experience physical and psychological violence in their countries of origin and throughout the migration route through Central America and Mexico, often related to exposure to organized crime.

March
A displaced family in Malatya, Türkiye after the earthquakes in February 2023.
A displaced family in Turkey looks at family photos salvaged from their home after it was destroyed in the earthquake.

Türkiye 2023 © Mariana Abdalla/MSF

"There are earthquakes on the one hand and rain on the other. We don’t know what will happen in the future," said Hüseyin, who is from Ören, a town in Malatya, Turkey, which was impacted by earthquakes in early 2023.

"I’m here with my wife, my siblings, my children, and my mother … Our belongings are drowned in water because of the flood, we can't find anything to wear, the neighbor brought us these clothes for now. We were staying in a tent, but the tent got flooded too. We are now trying to dry what we took out of the house, including our family photos. The children are scared. The situation is very dire.”

An MSF nurse standing on rubble in front of a health facility in Central African Republic

Central African Republic 2023 © Julien Dewarichet/MSF

"Delivery conditions in the old building were very difficult, especially in the rainy season as the roof was totally damaged. Women delivered on traditional beds, it was lacking hygiene. It’s such a change now.”
— Sonia Natibil, birth attendant at the MSF-supported Nganzi health post in Central African Republic (CAR).
April
Girls walk to school with mountains of Bamyan province, Afghanistan in the background.
Afghanistan 2023 © Nava Jamshidi

Afghan girls walk to school in Band-e-Amir, Bamyan province, a remote area in Afghanistan where MSF opened the only community health facility for women and children. The facility offers prenatal, delivery, and postnatal care, pediatric consultations for children under age five, malnutrition monitoring, and referrals for patients with complicated cases. 

Men in wheelchairs play basketball in Central African Republic.
Central African Republic 2023 © Kristen Poels/MSF

After an accident in 2016, Bienvenu (in the pink jersey above) had his right leg amputated. Following the surgery, he received comprehensive medical care and physiotherapy treatment from MSF. Our teams at MSF's SICA trauma surgery hospital in Bangui, CAR, perform operations and provide follow-up care for an average of about 320 people each month.

A woman inside a tent with a yellow canteen of water, pouring it for a child.

DRC 2023 © Michel Lunanga/MSF

A woman holding a baby in a makeshift camp near Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo

DRC 2023 © Michel Lunanga/MSF

Viviane Nyirarukundo, 29, fled her village in Masisi territory, DRC, and is raising her two children alone at a camp for displaced people in Goma. She was abandoned by her husband after being raped. Viviane brought one child to MSF’s clinic to be treated for malnutrition, but faces ongoing difficulty finding food for the family. 

May
MSF midwives talk with one another at Chingussura health center in Beira, Mozambique.
Beatriz, at left, speaks with colleagues at Chingussura Health Center in Beira, where MSF supports Ministry of Health staff providing safe abortion care and maternity services.
Mozambique 2023 © Miora Rajaonary

Beatriz* (far left), a midwife trainee, speaks with colleagues at Chingussura Health Center in Beira, Mozambique, where MSF supports Ministry of Health staff in providing safe abortion care and maternity services. A year ago, when she was still in school, she came to the health center as a patient for safe abortion care.

“I had support from my family, from my husband," she said. "At first, he didn’t accept it, but after we discussed my situation—that I was studying—he accepted it. It is a myth that you cannot get pregnant again after having a [safe] abortion because I got pregnant again normally.”

*Name has been changed

A peer support session for people who have had abortions in Beira, Mozambique.
A member of MSF's community outreach team speaks with a patient of MSF's mobile clinic in an under-resourced neighborhood in Beira.
Mozambique 2023 © Miora Rajaonary

A member of MSF's community outreach team (left) speaks with a patient in an under-resourced neighborhood in Beira, Mozambique. Mobile clinics offer services for hard-to-reach groups including sex workers, vulnerable adolescents, and men who have sex with men.

"People share information, especially among women like me who are in sex work," said Emily*, a sex worker. "We are free, we share all our secrets."

*Name has been changed

A mother and child noma patient treated by MSF in Nigeria
Nigeria 2023 © Fabrice Caterini/MSF

Aisha, a six-year-old noma survivor, with her mother Hauwa in the postoperative ward of the Sokoto Noma Hospital in Nigeria. She wants to go to school and become a teacher.

Noma is a preventable disease that destroys the skin and bones of the face, killing about 90 percent of people infected. It most commonly affects children who are malnourished or whose immune systems are otherwise compromised.

In December, the World Health Organization recognized noma as a neglected tropical disease. MSF has been advocating for this recognition and will continue advocacy efforts, including through research and expanding collaboration with academic institutes around the world.

June
Two doctors perform surgery on a patient at Bashair Teaching Hospital in Khartoum, Sudan.
Sudan 2023 © MSF

In Sudan this year, fighting broke out between the Sudanese Armed Forces and Rapid Support Forces in Khartoum on April 15 and quickly spread to other regions throughout the country. Pictured above, MSF's surgical and emergency team works alongside local medical staff and volunteers to provide crucial life-saving medical care at Bashair Teaching Hospital in Khartoum. 

Sudanese refugee women arrive at Adré hospital in Chad on a bus.
Chad 2023 © Mohammad Ghannam/MSF

Millions of people have been forced from their homes in Sudan, including nearly half a million who have fled to neighboring Chad. Many arrive in the border town of Adré, where MSF teams provide care at Adré Hospital.

A young man from Sudan with bandages on his face after fleeing El Geneina to Chad.

Chad 2023 © Mohammad Ghannam/MSF

"No one was allowed to go in or out. People tried to get clean water from some valleys or springs, but snipers were shooting at them. At the beginning, there was resistance by Masalit armed groups, but they could not hold."
—Nour, a Sudanese refugee who fled El Geneina, Sudan for Chad
MSF aid workers stand in front of an inflatable tent hospital for Sudanese refugees in Adre, Chad
Chad 2023 © Mohammad Ghannam/MSF

To help accommodate the arrival of large numbers of Sudanese refugees, MSF built an inflatable emergency field hospital to support Adré Hospital. We treated more than 900 wounded people in the space of just four days from June 16 to 19.

X-ray of bullet lodged in neck of woman fleeing conflict in Sudan
Chad 2023 © Mohammad Ghannam/MSF

An X-ray of a woman who was admitted to Abéché Hospital with a bullet lodged in her neck after fleeing Sudan for Chad. MSF teams are working in four different locations in eastern Chad, providing maternal and surgical care, water and sanitation, and care for people with malnutrition, malaria, and other diseases.

Rohingya children create a kyssa, folktale story panel, in a refugee camp in Cox's Bazaar, Bangladesh.

Bangladesh 2023 © Victor Caringal/MSF

A Rohingya girl wearing a black veil standing beside drawings

Bangladesh 2023 © Victor Caringal/MSF

Left: Rohingya refugee children in Cox’s Bazaar, Bangladesh, create a mural illustrating a kyssa, a Rohingya folktale. The activity aims to reconnect children with their Rohingya identity six years after being forcibly displaced from Myanmar. Right: Habiba, a young Rohingya person, points to a picture she drew of an MSF doctor in a clinic in Bangladesh. She dreams of becoming a doctor to help her community. 

July
An MSF staff member sits with migrants on a hilltop in Lesvos, Greece.
Greece 2023 © Evgenia Chorou/MSF

An MSF team member sits with a group of newly arrived migrants in Lesvos, Greece. MSF provides emergency assistance—medical and psychological first aid—to people who arrive on the island by boat. In July alone, MSF assisted 1,031 people with emergency medical aid activities, of whom 26 percent were children. 

August
Migrants travel through Ecuador, Colombia and Panama.
Darién Gap 2023 © Juan Carlos Tomasi/MSF

From January to November, almost half a million migrants crossed the Darién Gap, a dangerous stretch of jungle between Colombia and Panama. MSF provides medical and humanitarian care along the migration route to alleviate people’s difficulties and health risks on the road.

Migrants pray while waiting for the sunrise to enter the Darién jungle between Colombia and Panama.
Darién Gap 2023 © Juan Carlos Tomasi/MSF

Migrants pray at 5:45 a.m. before embarking on a treacherous journey through the Darién Gap at sunrise.

An MSF nurse and patient sit on a hospital bed with a newborn baby in Aweil, South Sudan.
South Sudan 2023 © Oliver Barth/MSF

Nurse Regina Abuk Thor examines two-day-old Amel, held by her mother Catherina Peter Eduat. MSF runs the maternity unit in Aweil State Hospital in Northern Bahr el Ghazal, South Sudan.

September
A woman in checker print dress surrounded by bouquets of flowers.
Guinea 2023 © Namsa Leuba

“I was married at the age of 13 and my husband passed away sometime after," said Kadiatou Bodié Baldé, president of REGAP+ (Réseau des associations de patients affectés par le VIH) and person living with HIV in Guinea. "For 10 years, I was sick, but I didn’t know what was causing it. No one talked about HIV back then."

"[Later] I found MSF, I found a doctor, and I found community-based organizations that helped me get treatment. The support I received from MSF, my friends, and community-based organizations saved me from feeling traumatized. I found a job and I was able to care for my children.”

Rubble of buildings destroyed by flooding in Derna, where MSF is providing mental health support to survivors.

Libya 2023 © Ricardo Garcia Vilanova

A damaged bridge with water flowing through in Derna, where MSF is providing mental health care.

Libya 2023 © Halil Fidan/Anadolu Agency

Views of the devastation caused by floods brought by Storm Daniel, which hit the Libyan coast in September. MSF teams have been providing medical care and mental health support for people impacted, including staff and volunteers.

October
Silhouettes of people rescued by MSF from the Mediterranean Sea
Mediterranean Sea 2023 © Annalisa Ausilio/MSF

A group of migrants are among 63 people rescued by the MSF team on board the search and rescue ship Geo Barents. The group is heading to Genova, the place of safety assigned by the Italian authorities following the rescue. 

An Afghan man digs through the remains of his house beside his mother after the earthquake in Herat, Afghanistan.
Afghanistan 2023 © Paul Odongo/MSF

Abdul Salaam, watched by his mother, digs through the rubble of what used to be his home before a series of earthquakes hit Afghanistan in October.

A group of women survivors of the October 15 earthquake in Afghanistan sit under a tent.
Afghanistan 2023 © Paul Odongo/MSF

MSF medical teams care for patients affected by the earthquakes in a special tent set up outside Herat Regional Hospital in Afghanistan. Many did not want to be discharged because they had no home to return to. 

A man drinks water from a pipe on the wreckage from Israeli airstrikes in Gaza in 2023.
Palestine 2023 © Mohammed Baba

A Palestinian man drinks water from a spout on October 10, amid wreckage from the Israeli forces' bombardment of the Gaza Strip. The siege of Gaza included cutting off water supplies. 

An injured boy rests his bandaged head on his father's shoulder at Al Shifa Hospital in Gaza
An injured child at Al-Shifa Hospital in October 2023.
Palestine 2023 © MSF

A child rests his head on his father’s shoulder after receiving treatment at Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza in October.

November
Aerial shot of Old Fangak, South Sudan, during flooding.

South Sudan 2023 © Samir Bol

Avril Benoît, executive director of MSF-USA, helps carry supplies during a routine childhood vaccination campaign in the village of Wangmok near Old Fangak, South Sudan.

South Sudan 2023 © Samir Bol

While this year's rainy season was not as intense as previous years, the water in Old Fangak, South Sudan, still has not receded. This is partly because the soil isn't able to absorb the water since it remains saturated amid a changing climate, and the river levels are high from stronger rainy seasons elsewhere on the continent. Pictured at right: Avril Benoît, executive director of MSF-USA, helps carry supplies during a routine childhood vaccination campaign in the village of Wangmok, which is only reachable by boat.

An MSF staff member stands at the center of a circle of Palestinian children in a mental health session in Gaza.
MSF psychologist Marwa Abu Al Nour holds a group mental health session with children. Palestine 2023 © MSF

“As a psychologist, the most common things I see among children are nightmares, bed-wetting, anxiety, fear,” said Marwa Abu Al Nour, MSF psychologist at Martyrs Clinic in Gaza. “We try as much as possible to give them support via recreational activities. After that, we will work with the mothers through psychosocial education to explain what might happen to them because of the situation and how can they deal with it.”

A migrant child holds up a drawing over her face in Mexico
Mexico 2023 © MSF

“Since we arrived at the terminal, after having been through a very violent situation, MSF has taken care of us," said Karol*, a Venezuelan migrant in Mexico. "My daughter was seen by the psychologist, but she's suspicious of everything and still doesn't want to talk. She said 'get me out of here.’”

December
MSF-USA staff hold signs at a vigil calling for ceasefire at United Nations in New York.
United States 2023 © Christopher Lee

On December 6, MSF-USA held a vigil at the United Nations calling for a ceasefire and honoring our colleagues killed in Gaza: Alaa Al Shawa, a nurse; Dr. Mahmoud Abunujaila, general practitioner; Mohammed Al Ahel, a laboratory technician; and Dr. Ahmed Al Sahar, general practitioner.