Alert Summer 2024: Connecting Threads

Displacement, conflict, and the human stories that link us

A Palestinian child fetches water from a distribution point in Rafah, Gaza.

A Palestinian child fetches water from a distribution point in Rafah. The war has taken a heavy toll on the physical and mental health of Gaza's children. | Palestine 2024 © MSF

Alert is a biannual magazine published by Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF USA) that features ground reporting from our work around the world. Below are excerpts from the Summer 2024 issue (Vol. 25, no. 1), Connecting Threads: Displacement, Conflict, and the Human Stories That Link Us.

A letter from Dr. Africa Stewart

Dear Friends,

When I began my journey with Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) in 2011, I had no idea where it would take me.

As you might know from reading this magazine, my first assignment was as an ob-gyn in the city of Aweil, in what was then Sudan. It was a difficult time in Sudan—war had been raging for years, and the needs were massive. When I left on my assignment, I expected to be working amid conflict and violence.

What I found when I arrived was mothers ready to do anything to get health care for their babies. “OK,” I thought, “I know this story.”

I was elected to MSF USA’s board of directors in 2017, and two years later, in 2019, I became president of the board. Almost immediately, the world was plunged into the COVID-19 pandemic, forcing us to respond to a global contagion and pushing us to make the unprecedented decision to launch medical humanitarian operations in the US.

In 2020, the murder of George Floyd by police in Minnesota sent shockwaves through the US and around the world. As MSF USA’s president, I was proud to speak out to unequivocally state that racism is a public health crisis—and to foster important conversations about antiracism within our movement.

In 2022, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine escalated a long-simmering conflict and forced us to adapt our operations to a challenging and uncertain new context. In 2023, massive earthquakes struck Türkiye and northwestern Syria, where our teams had long been working to support people struggling to survive years of conflict. 

Today, violence is once again spiraling in Haiti and Sudan. And Doctors Without Borders continues to respond to a massive and worsening humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza.

In the years that have passed since that first assignment, the world has changed a lot and MSF USA has had to change to continue providing the highest quality medical care possible to the people who need it most. I’ve changed a lot, too. But through the years, it’s always been those human stories—those human connections—that have kept me coming back to this challenging, essential work.

It's those threads—the stories that link mothers and children, friends and neighbors, doctors and patients—that stretch across borders and form the fabric of our humanitarian movement. In this issue of Alert, and as we once again mark World Refugee Day on June 20, we’re sharing some of those threads and stories with you. You’ll meet a Sudanese colleague who journeyed across his country as it plunged once again into conflict and learn how he and his team continued providing care to the communities they met even under the most dire circumstances. You’ll hear from members of our staff who worked in Gaza, caring for children affected by the conflict and fighting for space for them to heal and live their stories. And you’ll hear from MSF USA’s executive director Avril Benoît, who shares her reflections after a visit to Old Fangak, in South Sudan, where flooding fueled by the climate emergency has pushed people already displaced by war into even more precarious conditions.

We share these stories to remind you—and ourselves—of the human threads that connect all of us, and to show how your support connects you to MSF teams, our patients, and their communities in so many different parts of the world. As I come to the end of my term as president of MSF USA’s board of directors, I’ll carry these stories with me as I continue my own.

With my time as president ending, it’s also my pleasure and privilege to introduce Dr. Rasha Khoury, MSF USA’s new board president, elected in May by our association of humanitarian staff. Dr. Khoury is a Palestinian physician who has completed six assignments as a surgeon with Doctors Without Borders in Sierra Leone, Lebanon, Ivory Coast, Iraq, and Afghanistan. She brings to her role a wealth of experience, a history of tireless advocacy for her patients, and her own unique stories.

It has been my great pleasure to serve these years as president of MSF USA. Thank you, as always, for your generosity and steadfast support.


Dr. Africa Stewart

Palestinian children play in the rubble in Gaza.

The most dangerous place in the world to be a child

The impact of war on Gaza's children

Read More
MSF search and rescue team rescues people from a boat in distress in the Central Mediterranean.

Saving lives is not a crime

Tommaso Fabbri, MSF’s former head of mission for search and rescue, on a legal case dismissed after seven years in limbo

Read More
A child sits behind his mother who is crouching down on a bench after crossing the Darién Gap.

The journey north

Documenting struggle and determination on migration routes in the Americas

Read More
MSF teams in Zamzam camp, Sudan, carry out a rapid malnutrition assessment for displaced people.

One year of catastrophe in Sudan

A cross-country journey during a war that has created the largest displacement crisis in the world

Read More
A flooded schoolhouse in the village of Wongmok near Old Fangak, South Sudan.

A lesson in climate solidarity from the flooded marshlands of Old Fangak

MSF teams are witnessing firsthand how climate change is already impacting people’s health around the world

Read More