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World Refugee Day 2019 | Why we stand with refugees

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 relentless bombing, an invading army, gang violence, or other life-threatening circumstances.

Our work with refugees

MSF provides medical care to refugees and displaced people all over the world.  

Our teams work in conflict zones where millions of people have been uprooted – including in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, South Sudan, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

"People seeking safety are being treated like criminals – and so are individuals and organisations providing lifesaving humanitarian aid."

In Europe and the Americas, we are providing care along some of the world’s most dangerous and deadly refugee routes.

Shabbir with his son Mohammed at MSF's hospital in Kutupalong - the largest refugee camp in the world. Shabbir's family escaped to Bangladesh after his eldest son, Salim, was killed in 2017 during a violent crackdown on Rohingya minorities in Myanmar.

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.  

Dangerous deterrence policies

Increasingly, 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.

In the United States, across Europe, and around the world, refugees are increasingly not welcome.

Some of the richest countries in the world are abandoning their international legal obligations and longstanding commitments to protect refugees and asylum seekers.

Before arriving in Italy, this 27-year-old pregnant woman from Nigeria was previously held in a crowded and inhumane detention centre in Libya: "This is my first pregnancy. I am expecting a girl. She will be called Testimony."

Many governments are criminalising 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 organisations 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.

"What often gets lost in the heated political debates around migration are the human beings whose lives have been upended by extreme violence or persecution."

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.

Simply trying to survive

What often gets lost in the heated political debates around migration are the human beings whose lives have been upended by extreme violence or persecution.

As an organisation 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.

Our work with refugees and displaced people >

* According to UNHCR data, published 19 June 2019

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