EXODUS: Three Stories of Escaping Violence on Three Continents

Anna Surinyach/MSF

BARCELONA/NEW YORK—No matter where they are sheltering, they need help now. The international medical humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) today launched Exodus, a web documentary about the refugees, displaced people, and migrants forced to leave their homes by violence.

For the first time since World War II, the number of people forcibly displaced from their homes has crossed the 50 million mark, according to the UN Refugee Agency. This includes many of those whom MSF provides aid, whether they are living in a tent in a refugee camp, sheltering in a half-finished building, or sleeping exposed in the bush.

“People fleeing violence have had all sorts of different experiences, but they have something in common,” said Joan Tubau, MSF general director. “All have lived in an environment dominated by cruelty and brutality.”

Exodus focuses on the Syrian war, which has seen three million people flee the country; on the conflict in South Sudan, with its disastrous effects on communities already suffering a humanitarian crisis; and on Central Americans escaping gang violence to the US, but finding their journeys beset by further brutality.

Through a combination of written narratives, videos and photography, the three stories illustrate the shared plight of people escaping conflict and violence across the world. While they take place in very different contexts and political environments, it is impossible not to draw parallels between them.

“Refugees, internally displaced people, and forced migrants are all terms that we use, but the suffering of people fleeing violence can’t be categorized,” said Tubau. “For us, their legal status makes no difference: they are escaping from war and violence, and too often they are abandoned to their fate.”

The Suchiate river, on the border between Mexico and Guatemala. The Central American migrants cross it on small boats. It's the beginning of their tough journey through Mexico.
Anna Surinyach/MSF