There are now 70.8 million people forced from home around the world—more than at any time in modern history. These are people who have fled extreme dangers, whether to escape armed conflict, gang violence, or other life-threatening circumstances.
Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) provides medical care to refugees and displaced people all over the world. Increasingly, we see that people on the move are trying to survive not just the harrowing challenges of migration itself, but the harmful deterrence policies put in place by governments trying to keep out migrants and asylum seekers at all costs.
For World Refugee Day, June 20, MSF is featuring stories of survival—a collection of video testimonies and first-hand accounts from people who have risked everything for a chance at safety. As an organization working with refugees and people on the move, we know that nothing—not a wall, or even an ocean—will ever stop people who are simply trying to survive.
Stories of survival
Our teams work in conflict zones where millions of people have been uprooted—including in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, South Sudan, and Democratic Republic of Congo. In Europe and the Americas, we are providing care along some of the world’s most dangerous migration routes. And we're caring for large numbers of displaced people in the world’s leading host countries for refugees, including Pakistan, Bangladesh, Lebanon, Uganda, and Ethiopia.
Some of the richest countries in the world are abandoning their international legal obligations and longstanding commitments to protect refugees and asylum seekers. In the United States, across Europe, and around the world, refugees are increasingly not welcome. Many governments are criminalizing migration, scapegoating refugees, and declaring that their countries are closed to asylum seekers. People seeking safety are being treated like criminals—and so are individuals and organizations providing lifesaving humanitarian aid.
In recent months, MSF’s lifesaving humanitarian assistance has been blocked in places like Nauru and the Mediterranean Sea as a direct result of government policies of deterrence.
Meanwhile, asylum seekers and refugees are pushed back and contained in low- and middle-income countries, where they often struggle to access the care they need. Increasingly, the world’s wealthiest nations are providing financial support and other incentives to countries willing to host refugees. This is converting international aid, which should be allocated on the basis of needs, into a tool for migration control.
What often gets lost in the heated political debates around migration are the human beings whose lives have been uprooted by extreme circumstances.
All governments must uphold their shared international obligations to protect people threatened by violence and persecution. On World Refugee Day—and every day—let’s Stand With Refugees.