Doctors Without Borders Opens Interactive Exhibition on the Refugee Crisis in Salt Lake City

Dr. Seuhee Yoo leads a student group through the Forced From Home exhibition in Library Square, located in downtown Salt Lake City

Forced From Home visits Library Square with free, outdoor exhibit on the realities of displacement

SALT LAKE CITY, SEPTEMBER 20, 2017—The international medical humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) brings its Forced From Home exhibition to Salt Lake City this week. It is an interactive, free exhibition on the global refugee and migration crisis, which is currently traveling throughout the Western U.S.

Forced From Home seeks to show the human stories behind the headlines and faceless statistics of the more than 65 million people who are currently displaced worldwide and now face an uncertain future. On the frontlines of helping people affected by this unprecedented crisis, MSF calls for greater international efforts to protect people fleeing for their lives from war or persecution.

“Our medical staff treat people uprooted by conflict and extreme violence all over the world,” said Jason Cone, executive director of MSF-USA. “MSF provides care along their dangerous journey—on rescue boats, in refugee camps, and in health centers. “Forced From Home provides an opportunity to bring our patients’ stories to the U.S. public, to humanize the refugee crisis, and to challenge political leaders at all levels of government to dramatically increase assistance and protections for refugees and asylum seekers.”

Forced From Home tours are guided by experienced MSF aid workers who have worked directly with displaced individuals and families all over the world. Visitors are invited to navigate the 10,000-square-foot exhibition space, and to consider the inconceivable challenges faced daily by those who are forced to flee from their homes. Forced From Home is a key component of MSF’s efforts to advocate for concrete policy changes to meet the urgent needs of refugees and internally displaced people.

The exhibition discusses the harm caused when governments close borders, return people to places where they can face death or persecution, or leave them trapped in war zones and other situations of extreme danger. MSF calls upon all world leaders to honor their commitments under existing international refugee and human rights conventions.

Forced From Home illustrates the unique challenges encountered by people on the move – including the causes of displacement, the perils faced while seeking safety, legal obstacles, the lack of basic needs and shelter, and medical challenges. Exhibition visitors, for example, will gain a sense of what it’s like to be squeezed onto an overcrowded rubber raft lost at sea, or to not have enough water for drinking or washing. They will also be confronted with the near impossible choices people must make when fleeing at a moment’s notice.

Visitors engage with materials and images gathered from refugee camps, sea rescue missions, and emergency medical projects to get a sense of what it truly means to be forced to flee. The immersive experience also incorporates virtual reality and 360-degree videos that take participants to Iraq, Lebanon, Mexico, Tanzania, and South Sudan – areas where large groups of displaced people currently reside.

"As the Refugee Community Liaison for Mayor Jackie Biskupski, and as a refugee myself, I can proudly say that Salt Lake City is a welcoming city for our refugee and immigrant communities,” said Fatima Dirie. “It is important for the Mayor to have diverse voices at the table, and to do all we can to make transitions into our community easier."

“I’ve met with people in refugee and internally displaced persons’ camps from South Sudan, to Lebanon, and Mexico,” said Cone. “They are far from passive victims. They are mothers and fathers wanting the best possible future for their children. They are some of the bravest and most resilient individuals I have ever met. Through this exhibition, we want visitors to understand why so many risk it all, and decide that the open sea is safer than land. In short, we want to close the distance, to show the public what it looks like, feels like and what it means, to be forced from home.”

Forced From Home will be in Salt Lake City on Library Plaza until September 24. It is a free event that is open to the public. Further information on the exhibition and related events can be found at For tour updates, follow @ForcedFromHome on Twitter or Instagram.

Upcoming tour dates and cities:

  • September 18-24: Library Plaza – Salt Lake City, UT
  • October 2-8: South Lake Union Discovery Center – Seattle, WA
  • October 16-22: Pioneer Courthouse Square – Portland, OR
  • October 30-November 5: Henry J. Kaiser Convention Center – Oakland, CA
  • November 13-19: Santa Monica Pier – Santa Monica, CA

Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is an international, independent, medical humanitarian organization that delivers emergency aid to people affected by armed conflict, epidemics, natural disasters, and exclusion from health care. MSF offers assistance to people based on need, irrespective of race, religion, gender, or political affiliation.