A new influx of 30,000 refugees crossed the border from Sudan (Blue Nile State) into South Sudan (Upper Nile State) over a period of about 2 weeks.

MSF works around the world to provide refugees and internally displaced people (IDPs) with everything from psychological care to lifesaving nutrition. 

Fact: 

There are currently more than 15 million refugees around the world.

IDPs are not defined as refugees because they have not fled their home countries.

There are more than 28 million IDPs around the world.

Half of the world’s IDPs are fleeing conflicts in just four countries.

More than 44 million people are fleeing conflict or persecution around the world.

MSF works around the world to provide refugees and internally displaced people (IDPs) with everything from psychological care to lifesaving nutrition. We set up hospitals in refugee camps, we help women give birth safely, we vaccinate children to prevent epidemics and we provide safe drinking water.

International law

Refugees are protected under international law. The United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) is responsible for leading and co-ordinating international action to protect refugees and resolve refugee problems worldwide. Its primary purpose is to safeguard the rights and well-being of refugees.   

The largest camp in the world

With a population of more han 460,000, Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya is the largest in the world, and one of the most dangerous.

Today, Dadaab is no longer a refuge. As more people arrive from war-torn Somalia, the overcrowded camps are becoming permanent homes where people face rolling nutritional crises and outbreaks of diseases such as measles and cholera.

Abubakar Mohamed Mahamud, MSF’s deputy field coordinator, has worked in Dadaab for more than 20 years. “The crisis in Somalia is not going to end soon,” he said. “History is repeating itself and this is a never-ending problem.”

“What I see today is what I saw in 1991: desperate people who fled their war-torn country, leaving everything behind, only to end up in a camp where living conditions are below what is humanly dignified.”

Following the drought in the Horn of Africa in 2011, a surge of people fled Somalia in search of safety, food and medical care, aggravating the already dire situation for refugees in Dadaab. Inside Dagahaley, one of Dadaab’s five camps, MSF teams tripled capacity by setting up an emergency nutrition centre with more than 200 beds. At the same time, MSF maintained a 100-bed hospital for maternal care, pediatrics, emergencies and general medical assistance.

Internally displaced people

While IDPs often flee their homes for similar reasons to refugees (armed conflict, human rights violations, natural disasters) technically, they are not refugees. An IDP has not crossed an international border to find refuge and therefore remains legally under the protection of his or her own government, even if that government is the cause of their flight.

Today, there are 28 million IDPs in 52 countries around the world. Half of the world’s IDPs are fleeing conflicts in just four countries: Colombia, Syria, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Sudan. Around three quarters of all IDPs are women and children.

Despite international law calling for the protection of civilians in conflict, belligerents often deliberately target women and children as part of their strategy.

And, while programs exist to provide surgical and other care to these victims, the vast majority will not receive the care they need because they live in regions where the healthcare system has collapsed and where it is too dangerous for independent aid agencies to operate.

More than 44 million people are fleeing conflict or persecution around the world.

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