There are more than 60 million people around the world currently displaced from their homes, the highest number since the Second World War. Many are fleeing persecution, poverty and war in their home countries, but are forced by official barriers into underground human-trafficking networks.

Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) delivers humanitarian medical care to many of these people first-hand: to those who have been uprooted by war, are stuck in transit camps or have risked the dangers at the hands of people smugglers. Our teams have witnessed the suffering and conflict that have led people to embark on these terrifying journeys — and the humanitarian consequences of the international community's failure to protect their rights and freedoms.


The global migration crisis will be a test of Canada's humanity: MSF Canada's Stephen Cornish

"We must not turn our back on our collective responsibility to welcome refugees with dignity, to extend and review individual asylum claims on their merits and, where the latter is lacking, to ensure returnees are only sent back home or to third countries where it is safe to do so. As Canadians, we must open our eyes to the fact that our government already manages our border’s through a complex system of interdiction."



MSF denounces widespread violence against migrants and refugees at the Serbian-Hungarian border

From January 2016 to February 2017, MSF treated 106 cases of injuries allegedly perpetrated by Hungarian border patrols. All cases treated by MSF teams follow similar patterns of violence, including injuries caused by beating (54 cases), dog bites (24 cases), irritations caused by tear gas and pepper spray (15 cases) and other injuries (35 cases).  Such abuse did not exclude vulnerable people such as unaccompanied minors: out of 106 cases, 22 were below 18 years old.



Dying to reach Europe: Insights into Eritreans' desperate journeys to safety

The dangerous journeys that tens of thousands of Eritreans are making across desert and sea to reach Europe are a striking example of how restrictive migration policies are having a devastating impact on people seeking safety outside their countries of origin, says Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) in a new report. Dying to Reach Europe: Eritreans in Search of Safety is based on the first-hand testimonies of refugees who have fled the small but highly militarized east African country, reporting a lack of freedom and forced military conscription for years or even decades. Defectors are at risk of being rounded up, imprisoned, tortured or killed.

“Ninety per cent of Eritreans who manage to reach Europe via land and sea are granted asylum. European governments recognize their claims as genuine, but despite this are doing all they can to prevent them and others seeking asylum from reaching EU shores,” said Arjan Hehenkamp, MSF General Director.



'Some people don't survive': A Canadian MSF nurse on delivering care to people fleeing violence in Iraq

Many people who are forcibly displaced by war and other catastrophes often flee to refuge within the borders of their own country.  

Mariko Miller, an MSF emergency nurse, witnessed the suffering of survivors who managed to escape from the war-torn district of Hawija to the relative safety of Kirkuk in northern Iraq.



Libya: MSF raises grave concerns about inhuman detention conditions for migrants

As EU leaders meet in Malta on February 3, 2017 to discuss migration, with a view to close down the route from Libya to Italy by stepping up cooperation with the Libyan authorities, Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) raised grave concerns about the fate of people trapped in Libya or returned to the country.

The international humanitarian organization has been providing medical care to migrants, refugees and asylum-seekers detained in Tripoli and its surroundings since July 2016 and says people are detained arbitrarily in inhumane and unsanitary conditions, often without enough food and clean water and with a lack of access to medical care.   


Frozen out by Europe: Thousands trapped in freezing temperatures in Greece and the Balkans

After being frozen out by European migration policies, thousands of migrants and refugees now find themselves trapped in freezing conditions in shelters that are ill adapted to winter in Greece and the Balkans. The cynical neglect of European policies, compounded by icy temperatures and a lack of preparation for winter, have worsened an already unbearable situation for thousands of men, women and children seeking protection in Europe.

The situation is particularly concerning for those stuck on the Greek islands, living in tents in overcrowded camps, and for those stranded in abandoned buildings in Belgrade or still trying to cross the Balkan borders. Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has repeatedly called on the authorities in Greece and the Balkans to improve conditions in time for winter.

“With the European Union/Turkey deal and the official closure of the Balkan road, the EU has decided to turn the entire region into its own gatekeeper, in a bid to stem the flow of those seeking protection from some of today’s most active war zones” declared Stefano Argenziano, MSF’s operations coordinator on migration. “Today, people are severely lacking appropriate assistance and this is putting their lives in danger. We are witnessing the most cruel and inhumane consequences of European policies, used as a tool to deter and victimise those who are only seeking safety and protection in Europe.”



Children at risk: Nurse finds heartbreak and hope among the youngest passengers on an MSF search-and-rescue ship in the Mediterranean Sea

Since 2015, Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has been running search-and-rescue operations in the Mediterranean Sea, in response to a humanitarian crisis that saw more than 4,000 people perish last year alone while trying to reach safety in Europe and flee conflict, disaster and turmoil in their home countries.

Canadian nurse Courtney Bercan was recently part of the medical team on-board the MSF ship Dignity I, providing medical care to people rescued from boats in distress. In the first-person piece below, she shares her thoughts on the passengers she met who provided the most reasons for both heartbreak and hope: the children.



A Canadian physician describes her experiences aboard an MSF Mediterranean search-and-rescue ship, and thanks supporters for making her lifesaving work possible

Dr. Sarah Giles is a Canadian doctor who spent four months as an MSF medical activity manager on-board the MV Aquarius, a migrant rescue ship in the Mediterranean Sea, from August to November 2016. In the video above, she recounts some of her experiences treating people in desperate situations, pulled from boats in distress as they tried to reach Europe from North Africa, and she thanks the MSF supporters who helped make this work possible.

While on the Aquarius, Sarah also maintained a blog, on which she shared many more stories from the front lines of the Mediterranean migration crisis, describing some of the terrible conditions she has seen faced by rescued patients, the challenges of helping hundreds of people on a single boat at sea, and the ongoing tragedy of continued mass drownings. 

Read Sarah's frank accounts of life aboard a rescue boat amid an ongoing crisis, and her insights into the continued need for a comprehensive humanitarian response.




Migrant lives at risk: 10 things you need to know about the Mediterranean crisis


In 2016, Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) had teams on board three boats, the Dignity I, Bourbon Argos and the MV Aquarius.From the beginning of operations in April until November 29, these three teams directly rescued 19,708 people from overcrowded boats and assisted a further 7,117 people with safe transfer to Italy and medical care. At least one in seven of those rescued on the Mediterranean were helped by the MSF teams.

Here are some of the most important facts about this humanitarian crisis:



The Less-Told Migration Story and its Humanitarian Consequences: A Special Report from MSF Canada

A new report from Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) Canada by Sonal Marwah, a Researcher on forced migration and refugee issues, MSF Canada Executive Director Stephen Cornish and MSF Canada Humanitarian Affairs Advisor Carol Devine looks at the human impact of our current global approach to migrants and refugees.




Mediterranean Sea: MSF ship Dignity I assists with rescues of 3,000 people in a single day

On Monday, August 29, Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF)’s search and rescue boat Dignity I contributed to the rescue of around 3,000 people drifting in about 20 rubber dinghies and several wooden boats, one of which carried between 600-700 people, in the central Mediterranean.


Displaced: The Summer 2016 issue of Dispatches looks at the global displacement crisis

The latest issue of the MSF Canada magazine considers the humanitarian challenges that result from more than 65 million people around the world being displaced by conflict, persecution and hardship.

Read the new online version of Dispatches, and hear more from our staff and patients on the front lines of the global displacement crisis.


Trapped in transit: MSF hears disturbing testimony from refugees, migrants and asylum seekers escaping Libya


Hundreds of interviews with people rescued at sea by MSF during 2015 and 2016 have exposed the alarming level of violence and exploitation to which refugees, asylum seekers and migrants are subjected in Libya. Many of those we have rescued report having directly experienced violence in the country, while almost all report witnessing extreme violence against refugees and migrants, including beatings, sexual violence and murder.


World Refugee Day: The humanitarian consequences of restrictive migration policies

June 20 marks World Refugee Day. The following article describes the humanitarian needs that MSF teams see among displaced populations, and argues that a more comprehensive global response to a growing displacement crisis is needed in order to prevent increased human suffering.This article was first published in Policy Options magazine, and has been adapted from a longer paper originally presented at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights in Canada.


MSF to no longer take funding from European Union member states and institutions in protest over damaging migration deterrence policies 

On June 17, 2016, MSF announced that it will no longer take funds from the European Union and member states, in opposition to their damaging deterrence policies and intensifying attempts to push people and their suffering away from European shores. This decision took effect immediately and applies to MSF’s projects worldwide.


From MSF Canada's executive director: We must uphold promises to global refugee community

“I was beaten with bare hands, with sticks, with guns. If you move, they beat you. If you talk, they beat you. We spent two months like that, being beaten every day.” That is how Agnes, an Eritrean woman rescued by Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF)’s search-and-rescue operations from a sinking migrant boat in the Mediterranean Sea, described her ordeal at the hands of people-smugglers.



To get more updates from MSF's work along the world's migration routes, click here.

'The conditions are unacceptable': MSF physician, Dr. Tim Jagatic, on the refugee camp in Idomeni, Greece


5,000 people, 5,000 stories: First-hand accounts from people rescued by MSF on the Mediterranean Sea


MSF ends search-and rescue operations in the central Mediterranean after more than 20,000 rescues in 2015

After eight months at sea, 20,129 people rescued, and over 120 separate search and rescue operations, Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF)’s remaining search-and-rescue ship on the Mediterranean Sea, the Bourbon Argos, returned to port for the last time in 2015 on December 30. As winter conditions have reduced the number of people crossing the central Mediterranean, MSF considers that there are currently enough assets to deal with existing needs, but renews calls for EU authorities to provide adequate and dedicated search-and-rescue resources to prevent tragedies in the coming months, when the number of arrivals is are expected to increase again.







Childbirth on the Mediterranean: Meet Divan, delivered on-board an MSF boat after his mother was rescued at sea, October 18, 2015

Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) midwife Astrid Börjesson describes how she helped deliver a new baby boy last Sunday to a woman who was among the 240 people rescued by the Dignity I, an MSF search-and-rescue ship in the Mediterranean Sea. The 25-year-old woman gave birth to her son, named Divan, after enduring a terrible journey from Cameroon to Libya and on to the Mediterranean Sea in search of hope and safety.


MSF rescues people in distress on the Mediterranean on August 26, 2015


Harrowing scenes and survivor testimonies from capsized migrant boat in the Mediterranean Sea


On August 5, a vessel carrying more than 700 migrants from North Africa to Europe capsized off the coast of Libya.The Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) search-and-rescue vessel Dignity I was among the first ships to arrive at the scene. The video above, narrated by MSF project coordinator Juan Matias Gil, shows MSF teams at work upon arriving at the ship, and includes an interview with one couple who struggled to save their infant daughter from drowning before being rescued.


Background on the crisis in the Mediterranean and MSF's response

Help us provide life-saving medical humanitarian relief. Donate online or call +1 800 982 7903 [Toll free].

#MSFSea: A day in the life of MSF physician Dr. Simon Bryant aboard the MY Phoenix rescue vessel


On June 19, users of the social media hashtag #MSFSea got an up-close look at MSF's participation in search-and-rescue operations for migrant vessels on the Mediterranean Sea. Canadian physician Dr. Simon Bryant and his colleagues shared details of their work, their lives on board and the people who have received treatment while trying to reach Europe from North Africa. Visit our campaign page to read the discussion and follow the day's events.



MSF search and rescue operations aboard the Bourbon Argos


'We remain prudent': MSF responds to Europe's new Agenda on Migration in the Mediterranean


On May 13, the European Commission presented the European Agenda on Migration, outlining measures that will be taken in order to respond to the crisis situation in the Mediterranean, as well as the steps to be taken in the coming years. While there is a significantly increased budget for search and rescue operations, it remains to be seen how these promises will translate into practice. Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) today released a statement in reaction:



MSF reinforces its search-and-rescue operations for migrants with a second vessel in the Mediterranean

MSF is launching an additional ship to carry out search-and-rescue operations in the Mediterranean Sea to assist people who are risking their lives trying to reach Europe by boat. The ship is carrying a crew of 26 people, including an experienced search-and-rescue crew as well as medical staff to provide emergency medical care. The Bourbon Argos, which left port of Augusta, Sicily, on May 9, will provide additional search and rescue support in the Mediterranean. The ship will work in parallel with the MY Phoenix,  a boat jointly operated by MSF and MOAS (Migrant offshore Aid Station), which launched on May 2. 


'It’s definitely not about simply rescuing them from dehydration, hypothermia, and drowning, but sharing one’s humanity. Giving a damn.' Read the latest blog from Canadian MSF physician Dr. Simon Bryant


In his latest blog entry from onboard the MY Phoenix, the search-and-rescue vessel that MSF is operating with MOAS in the Mediterranean, Alberta's Dr. Simon Bryant reflects on the hard stories he encounters from the migrants his team has helped rescue. "You can check the internet for our current location," he writes, "but it won’t tell you anything about the lives of the 219 souls recently on board, or why I’m here."

An Interactive guide to the MSF/MOAS rescue boat, the Phoenix

'They have come through a hell I do not like to think about': The latest blog update from Dr. Simon Bryant, on-board MSF's search-and-rescue vessel responding to migrants in crisis at sea

Dr. Simon Bryant attends to a pregnant patient who was rescued by the crew of the MY Phoenix on May 3.

Canmore, Alberta's Dr. Simon Bryant is aboard the MY Phoenix, MSF's newly launched search-and-rescue operation on the Mediterranean Sea, where our medical teams are working to intercept migrant ships from North Africa in order to prevent drownings and address major health risks. He is keeping a blog for the duration of his posting, where he will reflect on life at sea, MSF's lifesaving program and the ongoing humanitarian crisis taking place.


Mediterranean crisis: MSF helps rescue 369 people at sea in first 24 hours of new maritime operation


The weekend of May 2, more than 6,000 people were rescued in several operations on the Mediterranean Sea while making the treacherous crossing from Libya to Europe. Three hundred and sixty nine of those were rescued by the MY Phoenix, a search-and-rescue vessel run in partnership by Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) and MOAS (Migrant Offshore Aid Station). Early on May 4, an additional 104 people were rescued with the assistance of the MY Phoenix team and transferred onto a commercial vessel.

The crew of 20 people — which includes a professional crew of cam-copter operators, search-and-rescue professionals and medics — engaged in their first rescue on Sunday afternoon, less than 24 hours after leaving the Maltese harbor. Those rescued were primarily from Eritrea and included pregnant women and roughly 45 children including babies.


'Opinions never saved a drowning child': Interview with a Canadian doctor on-board MSF's Mediterranean migrant search-and-rescue boat

Alberta physician Dr. Simon Bryant will be part of an MSF team delivering urgent medical care on the open sea to migrants at risk trying to cross the Mediterranean from Africa to Europe. "The Mediterranean migrants need immediate assistance to avoid death by drowning, while others talk about fixing the causes for their optimistic despair," he says.



The MY Phoenix will conduct search-and-rescue operations for migrant ships in the Mediterranean, and will have an onboard MSF clinic to treat people at risk


Many migrants arrive in Malta, stranded on an island where daily life is a struggle and prospects for the future are grim. MSF started working in Malta in August 2008, when hundreds of newly arrived migrants were being locked up in detention centres where conditions were a serious threat to their health. MSF denounced these conditions and continued working on the island. 


News from MSF's work along the world's migration routes:


Other MSF migration projects:

Help us provide life-saving medical humanitarian relief. Donate online or call +1 800 982 7903 [Toll free].


Trapped in transit: MSF hears disturbing testimony from refugees, migrants and asylum seekers escaping Libya


Hundreds of interviews with people rescued at sea by MSF during 2015 and 2016 have exposed the alarming level of violence and exploitation to which refugees, asylum seekers and migrants are subjected in Libya. Many of those we have rescued report having directly experienced violence in the country, while almost all report witnessing extreme violence against refugees and migrants, including beatings, sexual violence and murder.


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