Lives uprooted

Inside a hostel in the Mexican city of Nuevo Laredo, just across the border from the US. Groups of gunmen commonly wait at the door of this building to kidnap migrants and hold them for ransom. “It is unacceptable that vulnerable people— women, children, families, and men—are forced to live in dangerous conditions, exposed to violence by criminal gangs and treated inhumanely by Mexican and US authorities,” said Dr. Marcelo Fernandez, MSF’s head of mission in Mexico.
Mexico 2019 © Juan Carlos Tomasi
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There are now 70.8 million forcibly displaced people around the world, more than at any time in modern history. Some have been forced from home by conflict, others escaped gangs and criminal violence, still more have fled persecution. All face additional threats on their journey to find safety, including a lack of access to essential needs like clean water, food, shelter, personal security, and health care. 

Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) cares for refugees and displaced people all over the world. We see that the suffering of people on the move is compounded by their treatment while in transit and in countries where they had hoped to find refuge. Increasingly, governments are trying to keep out migrants and asylum seekers at all costs.

2019:

2019: The year in photos

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Migrants and refugees in Zintan and Gharyan detention centers in Libya
Detained refugees look out through a gap in the gate at the Zintan detention center, Libya.
Libya 2019 © Jérôme Tubiana/MSF

In Central America and along migration routes through Mexico our teams provide vital primary and mental health services to people fleeing extreme violence and poverty in Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala. We also care for thousands of asylum seekers and deportees stranded in notoriously dangerous cities on the Mexican border. And we speak out about the harmful policies—such as the US government’s Migrant Protection Protocols—that are putting lives at risk.

Medical Team Leader, Stefanie, helps rescued people remove their life jackets as they come on board Ocean Viking.
On October 18, 2019, the search and rescue ship Ocean Viking, operated by MSF and SOS MEDITERRANEE, responded to a boat in distress on the Mediterranean Sea. One-hundred four people, including 40 minors and two pregnant women, were brought safely on board.
Mediterranean Sea 2019 © Stefan Dold/MSF

Every year, thousands of people fleeing threats to their lives at home attempt the treacherous journey across the Mediterranean Sea. Countless lives are lost along the way. In response, MSF runs search and rescue operations from the ship Ocean Viking in collaboration with the humanitarian organization SOS MEDITERRANEE. We also care for migrants and refugees held in horrific conditions in arbitrary detention in Libya, where many are sent as a result of European Union migration policies. 

At least 1.4 million Venezuelans have fled to neighboring Colombia. They have left a country where, over the last few years, most people had no access to medicines and essential health services were entirely out of reach.
Colombia 2019 © Melissa Pracht

In Colombia, which now hosts more than a million people who fled the ongoing economic and political crisis in neighboring Venezuela, MSF provides free treatment for migrants who would otherwise have limited access to affordable health care. Our teams provide comprehensive care, including much-needed antenatal and family planning services.

World Refugee Day: Nunahar and her husband Abdul Zoleel at the Kutupalong field hospital
Nunahar and her husband, Abdul Zoleel, pose for a portrait at MSF’s Kutupalong field hospital, one of the many health facilities we run for the hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees living in Bangladesh after fleeing targeted violence in neighboring Myanmar.
Bangladesh 2019 © Nitin George/MSF

And in Bangladesh, where more than 700,000 ethnic Rohingya refugees have been living in legal limbo in squalid conditions for more than two years after fleeing targeted violence in Myanmar, MSF teams provide full-spectrum health care, from neonatal services to treatment for mental health disorders to vaccination campaigns.

Kutupalong megacamp
A girl runs through an alley in the overcrowded Kutupalong megacamp in Bangladesh. The country now hosts over 912,000 Rohingya refugees, 700,000 of whom arrived since August 2017. Thousands more Rohingya are scattered across the region.
Bangladesh 2019 © Dalila Mahdawi/MSF

As the year draws to a close and the next begins, we’ll keep providing lifesaving medical care to displaced people all over the world, adapting our services to better treat people on the move and speaking out against government policies that put the most vulnerable at risk.