Médecins Sans Frontières
Every December, we look back not only to assess the past 12 months, but also to find reasons for hope heading into the new year. It's not always an easy task, especially when focusing on Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF)'s work on the front lines of humanitarian crises around the globe.
The current global migration crisis has been exacerbated by governments shirking their obligations to protect people during their most vulnerable moments. States are increasingly disregarding their responsibilities to uphold the rights of migrants and refugees, and are failing to treat them with humanity and dignity.
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Despite there being no shortage of reasons for despair, we must start this new year with hope. There is no doubt that the situation in Syria is dire. But just as with Ebola, we can mitigate the dreadful human toll if we retain our instincts for empathy, and remain steadfast in our defence of fundamental humanitarian principles.
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Investigations are continuing into the bombing of the hospital on Saturday, which killed at least 19 people, including 12 MSF staffers.
People don't abandon their homes out of choice, and they are not unaware of the risks they will face along their journeys. It is out of desperation that they flee war and torture, misery, poverty and persecution. Doctors Without Borders delivers humanitarian medical care and sees first-hand the suffering and horrible conditions that drive people to risk their lives for the chance of a better future.
Thousands are dying at sea, in detention and on the way to what they hope are better lives. They deserve more than our empathy, understanding and compassion. They also deserve -- and need -- a helping hand.
I am in Sierra Leone to visit some of the Ebola treatment centres run by Doctors Without Borders/ Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) in response to the West African epidemic that began just over one year ago. That the Prince of Wales centre in Freetown, and other Ebola centres are closing is a sign case numbers have plummeted from the historic highs seen in the outbreak.
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There is simply no compatibility between humanitarian action and the use of military force in combat. One has as its singular objective the alleviation of human suffering, regardless of the sufferer's identity or affiliation; the other, by definition, involves taking the side of one group against the other. That's also why it is very worrying to hear that humanitarian assistance is being used as strategic tactic in military action.
The number of major crises taking place around the globe this past year has been unparalleled in recent history. In fact, 2014 often seemed filled with intractable emergencies that were simply too big, too complex and too daunting to fathom, let alone solve. This felt particularly true when it came to humanitarian action.
MSF Canada's Stephen Cornish is writing from South Sudan, where he is witnessing first-hand the humanitarian crisis currently affecting the world's youngest country. In a United Nations base-turned-p...
MSF Canada's Stephen Cornish is writing from South Sudan, where he is witnessing first-hand the humanitarian crisis currently affecting the world's youngest country. Roughly 1,300 people are currentl...
Tents seem to sprout from flooded ditches that meander in serpentine fashion through the haphazard settlements. Even in daylight, wading through the camp is a challenge, with gumboots sinking constantly into a quicksand of sewage and muck. It is no wonder that at night many relieve themselves directly in the ditches rather than venture out.
The former residents of this place -- whether of Shilluk, Dinka or Nuer ethnicity -- all suffered at the hands of the fighters who have been waging an indiscriminate and vicious tug-of-war over Malakal. Those who are currently sheltered where aid has reached, in the POC sites and displacement camps, are the fortunate ones.
Overcrowded, disease-infested and sometimes flooded by sewage, the POC sites are failing to truly protect the civilians in their care. A true commitment to protection must include safeguarding vulnerable people against hunger, disease, sexual violence, unnecessary mental anguish and being forced back out into conflict zones merely to survive.