Médecins Sans Frontières is founded by a group of French doctors and journalists in the wake of war and famine in Biafra (now southeastern Nigeria), and floods in eastern Pakistan (now Bangladesh). Since its founding, MSF has treated over a hundred million patients — with 8.3 million outpatient consultations carried out in 2011 alone.

2013: MSF helps people fleeing Mali

  • With tensions simmering in Mali, the French military intervenes to suppress an Islamist uprising in January.
  • MSF continues its emergency medical work across Mali and assists people who have fled to neighbouring countries.
 

2012: MSF responds to Syrian conflict

  • In July, MSF begins to run medical programs inside Syria, although without authorization from the Syrian government.
  • MSF initially sets up three field hospitals in the north of the country. One of the hospitals, located in a cave, would later be bombed after the MSF team leaves for more secure surroundings.
  • Refugee influx causes crisis in South Sudan
  • MSF warns of dire medical consequences as tens of thousands of new refugees cross from Sudan into South Sudan, finding refugee camps full and unable to provide the basic life-sustaining essentials.
  • The situation in Upper Nile and Unity States rapidly develops into a full-blown crisis as water supplies begin to run out and relief is wholly insufficient.
  • MSF vaccinates 117,000 people against cholera in the region of Boffa, 150 kilometres north of Conakry, the Guinean capital. This is the first time that people in Africa were protected during a cholera outbreak by a two-dose oral vaccine.
 

MSF condemns attack on aid workers in Somalia

  • Two MSF colleagues, Phillipe Havet and Andrias Karel Keiluhuo, were killed by a gunman while implementing emergency assistance projects in Mogadishu.
 

2011: Withdrawal from Thailand after 35 years

  • After months of negotiations and discussions with Thai authorities, it proves impossible to get permission to provide healthcare to undocumented migrants and vulnerable populations in Thailand that MSF believes are most in need of medical assistance.
 

MSF works with psychologists in aftermath of Japanese quake

  • MSF supports a team of six psychologists who treat survivors of the devastating earthquake and tsunami that hit northeast Japan on March 11.
 

Providing urgent medical care in Libya

  • MSF finally manages to deliver medicines and medical supplies to Sirte, Libya, at the heart of the fighting.
  • For ten days, we attempt to deliver aid to Sirte where, according to doctors in the town, the healthcare situation is deteriorating.
 

2010: Earthquake in Haiti

  • After a massive earthquake hits Haiti on January 12, MSF launches one of its largest ever interventions, expanding its projects in the country from three to a high of 26.
  • MSF treats more than 173,757 patients, and performs more than 11,748 surgeries in the five months that follow the disaster.
 

MSF and VII launch ''Starved For Attention''

  • MSF and the VII photo agency launch the "Starved For Attention" multimedia campaign on global malnutrition.
  • The ongoing exhibition, which has already been staged in the US, Europe, and Africa, highlights the often overlooked global scourge of malnutrition, its lethal impact on children in particular, and some innovative practices employed by MSF and others to combat it.
 

Flooding submerges Pakistan

  • MSF responds to massive floods in Pakistan by expanding existing programs and establishing new ones in areas where the organization hadn’t worked previously.
  • By December, teams had tended to more than 80,000 patients and distributed nearly 2 million litres of clean water, along with almost 65,000 relief kits.
  • Cholera strikes Haiti
  • In October, after cholera hits Haiti, MSF mobilizes hundreds of staff members to respond, eventually opening more than 50 cholera treatment centres across the country, launching widespread public education campaigns, and tending to more than 100,000 patients — more than 60 per cent of all cases in the country — in the months that followed.
 

2009: Conflict in Gaza

  • MSF supports hospitals in Gaza following an Israeli offensive launched to counter militants firing rockets into Israel.
  • After a ceasefire is announced, MSF opens a surgical hospital and also offers post-operative and psychological care.
  • MSF re-opens programs in Afghanistan
  • Following a five-year absence (see year 2004), MSF returns to the country and begins supporting hospitals in Kabul and in Lashkargah, the capital of Helmand province.

A difficult year in Sudan

  • MSF launches emergency interventions in the south in response to escalating violence and outbreaks.
  • In Darfur, the government expels two sections and four staff members are kidnapped.
  • Some projects are therefore closed, but MSF nonetheless provides nearly 129,000 consultations and supports numerous local health centers.
 

2008: Political unrest in Kenya displaces thousands

  • MSF treats wounded civilians in the shanty towns of the capital, Nairobi, and assists displaced Kenyans in makeshift camps who flee to the west of the country after disputed presidential elections lead to widespread violence.
 

Fighting cholera in Zimbabwe

  • After a cholera outbreak starts in August, MSF treats more than 65,000 people over the next 10 months while also supporting government-run facilities with supplies, staff incentive payments, and treatment programs.
 

Nutritional crisis in Ethiopia

  • MSF treats more than 72,000 malnourished children as a massive nutritional crisis sweeps the south of the country as a result of drought, poor harvests, and soaring food prices.
 

Violence escalates against civilians in DRC

  • MSF runs mobile clinics, surgical programs, nutritional programs, and provides treatment and counselling for victims of sexual violence as thousands of Congolese in North Kivu flee increased and repeated attacks on their villages by armed groups.
 

Cyclone hits Myanmar

  • MSF staff already working in the country provide assistance to thousands of people displaced by the cyclone while the government stalls on allowing additional staff to enter the country.
 

2007: A new treatment for malaria

  • The Drugs for Neglected Diseases Initiative and the pharmaceutical company Sanofi-Aventis launch ASAQ, an inexpensive and easy-to-use combination pill.
  • ASAQ is not patented, allowing for others to produce it at lower cost.
 

Conflict grips Somalia

  • Hundreds of thousands of civilians flee the capital, Mogadishu, as the worst fighting in 15 years erupts throughout the city.
  • Amid great insecurity, MSF sets up a surgical program in Mogadishu, provides assistance to some of those displaced, and maintains medical programs in the rest of the country.
 

Ebola in Uganda

  • MSF teams confront an Ebola outbreak in Uganda. After carrying out a rapid assessment, MSF set up isolation units in the Kikyo health centre and the Bundibugyo hospital.
 

Crisis unfolds in Chad

  • More than 150,000 displaced people attempt to survive in makeshift camps in eastern Chad as fighting escalates between the government and rebel groups.
  • MSF scales up its medical programs and calls for a massive international humanitarian response.
 

2006: Measles vaccination campaign in DRC

  • MSF launches a massive measles vaccination campaign in DRC. In only a few weeks, MSF teams vaccinate 359,318 children under the age of five.
 

Massive cholera outbreak in Angola

  • MSF treats 26,000 people and sends more than 400 tonnes of supplies to respond to a cholera outbreak that spreads from the capital to more than half the country.
 

Surgical care for victims of war in Iraq

  • Unable to work safely in Iraq, MSF sets up a reconstructive surgery program in Amman, Jordan to treat severely war-wounded patients referred by medical colleagues in Iraq.
 

Sri Lanka returns to war

  • As tens of thousands of people flee renewed fighting in the north of the country, MSF reopens surgical programs in north and central Sri Lanka after facing a series of setbacks from the authorities.
 

2005: Nutritional crisis in Niger

  • MSF begin an emergency operation to treat tens of thousands of children suffering from severe acute malnutrition in various parts of Niger, opening seven in-patient centres and 27 ambulatory centres.
 

Asian tsunami

  • MSF reacts immediately to the Asian tsunami disaster.
  • Within 48 hours teams were working on the ground and 32 tonnes of medical, water and sanitation supplies had been dispatched.
  • Thanks to the huge international response to the tsunami, the worst of the emergency was over by May.
  • MSF asks its donors, 99 per cent of whom agree, to allow it to reallocate some of the funds received to other MSF emergency medical programs around the world.
 

Earthquake hits Southeast Asia

  • MSF runs mobile clinics to reach people trapped in remote villages and sets up inflatable surgical tents to treat thousands of people injured in the massive earthquake that hit the Kashmir region of Pakistan and India.
 

Civilians under fire in Haiti's capital

  • MSF provides surgical, primary, and mental healthcare to people caught in the violence gripping Port-au-Prince, treating thousands of gunshot, machete, and knife wounds, and calls for all armed groups to respect the safety of civilians.
 

2004: Meeting the emergency in western Darfur

  • MSF opens feeding centres, clinics and vaccination campaigns in western Sudan (Darfur) and Chad, where hundreds of thousands of people fleeing violence face starvation.
 

Afghanistan withdrawal

  • MSF pulls out completely following the killing of five of its workers and the continuing threat to its teams by the Taliban.
 

2003: US invades Iraq

  • MSF teams remain in Baghdad and challenge the US government on its failure to provide adequate medical care to civilians.
 

Civilians suffer in DRC

  • MSF runs dozens of medical programs for people caught in the region’s chronic conflict.
 

DNDi created

MSF is a founding partner of the Drugs for Neglected Diseases Initiative, an organization dedicated to developing medicines for neglected diseases.
 

Heavy fighting in the Liberian capital

  • MSF remains in Monrovia to treat victims during fierce fighting between government and rebel groups.
 

2002: Famine in Angola

  • MSF runs the largest operation in its history, with 200 international volunteers and more than 2,000 local staff working throughout the country.
 

Malaria killing millions in Africa

  • Faced with skyrocketing resistance to common antimalarials like chloroquine, MSF increases its use of artemisinin-based combination therapy, and pushes for wider availability of this effective treatment.
 

US-led coalition invades Afghanistan

  • With many international staff evacuated, our programs continue to operate led by Afghan staff.
 

Aid workers targeted

  • MSF worker Arjan Erkel is abducted in the North Caucasus, a victim of increasing dangers faced by aid workers in conflict zones worldwide.
 

2001: HIV/AIDS pandemic

  • MSF starts providing antiretroviral therapy to people living with AIDS in Thailand, Cambodia, Cameroon, Guatemala, Kenya, Malawi and South Africa.
 

2000: Civil war in Sierra Leone

  • MSF treats victims of the country’s brutal civil war.
 

Asylum seekers flee to Europe

  • MSF expands programs assisting asylum seekers and undocumented immigrants in France, Italy, Spain and Belgium.
 

1999: Launch of Campaign for Access to Essential Medicines

  • With millions dying each year from treatable infectious diseases, MSF starts an international effort to push for increased access to medicines for the world's poor.
 

Second war in Chechnya

MSF calls for access to Grozny and denounces the massive use of violence by Russian forces against civilians.
 

Nobel Peace Prize

 

Crisis in Kosovo

  • During NATO bombing of Serbia, MSF provides humanitarian assistance to refugees in Macedonia, Albania and Montenegro.
 

1998: Famine in Southern Sudan

  • MSF responds to widespread famine caused by civil war and drought.
 

Civil war in Republic of Congo

  • MSF integrates treatment for survivors of rape and sexual assault into its emergency response.
 

Hurricane Mitch

  • MSF assist victims in Honduras, Nicaragua, Guatemala and El Salvador.
 

Famine in North Korea

  • Unable to ensure that medical aid was reaching the most vulnerable, we end our programs after three years, but continue to assist refugees fleeing to China.
 

1997: Street children neglected in Madagascar, Brazil and the Philippines

  • MSF medical and social programs for vulnerable and marginalized youth are expanded.
 

Rwandan refugee crisis continues

  • MSF fights for access to Rwandan refugees, many of whom are massacred or die of starvation and disease.
 

1996-97: Rwandan refugees seek aid

  • MSF assists refugees forced out of camps in Zaire as they return home, but are blocked from assisting those fleeing further into Zaire, who fall victim to widespread massacres.
 

1996: Meningitis in Nigeria

  • MSF launches a massive vaccination and treatment program, helping 4.5 million people.
 

1995: Srebrenica Massacre

  • MSF witnesses the fall of the UN “protected zone”, and denounces the subsequent massacre of up to 10,000 civilians by Serbian troops.
 

War in Chechnya

  • MSF brings aid to civilians inside the republic and in refugee camps in neighbouring countries.
 

1994: Genocide in Rwanda

  • MSF remains in Kigali throughout the genocide of more than 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus.
  • MSF makes an unprecedented decision to call for military intervention.
  • One million Rwandan refugees arrive in Goma, Zaire.
  • Within days, MSF collaborates on the biggest cholera program to date.
 

1993-94: War in Bosnia

  • Medical programs in the region extend to the UN's supposed "protection zones" of Gorazde and Srebrenica.
 

1993: Civil war in Burundi

  • A failed coup in October results in 750,000 refugees fleeing to neighbouring Rwanda, Tanzania and Zaire.
  • MSF deploys 85 volunteers in the region, but delays in the international relief effort cause widespread famine in the refugee camps.
 

1992: Bosnia

  • MSF denounces ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity.
 

Emergency in the Horn of Africa

  • One hundred MSF volunteers work in the region affected by war, drought and population displacement.
 

1991: Emergency in Somalia

  • MSF is the only foreign presence in war-stricken Mogadishu, and aids refugees in other countries.
 

Emergency in Kurdistan

  • Largest emergency relief operation to date. MSF provides care in Turkey, Iran and Jordan to Kurds displaced by the Gulf War.
 

Former Yugoslavia

  • The MSF relief convoy evacuating the wounded from Vukovar hospital comes under attack. Three MSF workers are wounded.
 

1990: Civil war in Liberia

  • MSF teams provide emergency care at the height of the fighting.
 

Afghanistan murder

  • An MSF logistician is murdered in Afghanistan. Activities suspended.
 

1988: Earthquake in Armenia

  • MSF provides medical care in the Soviet Union.
  • Iraq attacks Kurds. MSF is the first medical organization to bear witness to the use of chemical weapons on the Kurdish town of Halabja.
  • Withdrawal from Sudan after an MSF plane is shot down by a missile, killing four people, two of them MSF volunteers.
 

1986: Civil war in Sri Lanka

  • MSF organizes mobile clinics and hospital programs to treat injured and traumatized people in Sri Lanka.
  • MSF intervenes in Aden, Yemen, where fighting rages between rival factions of the ruling party.
 

1985: Conflict in Central America

  • MSF provides medical care in Honduras to refugees from El Salvador and Nicaragua.
 

MSF expelled from Ethiopia

  • MSF is expelled from Ethiopia after denouncing the government’s hijacking of humanitarian aid and forced population transfers.
 

1984: Famine in Ethiopia

  • MSF starts programs to treat malnutrition in hunger-stricken regions of Ethiopia.
 

1981: MSF hospitals bombed in Afghanistan

 

1980: War in Afghanistan

  • After the Soviet Union invades Afghanistan in the final days of 1979, MSF medical teams clandestinely cross the Pakistan–Afghan border and travel by mule for several weeks to reach injured civilians living in remote areas.
 

First nutritional program

  • In the Karamoja province of Uganda, MSF's first nutritional program is launched in the midst of drought and civil war.
 

First international appeal

  • “Walk for survival of Cambodia”, MSF's first international appeal, is launched in protest against the Vietnamese authorities stopping our teams from bringing aid to Cambodia.
 

1979: MSF splits

  • Led by Dr. Claude Malhuret and Dr. Francis Charhon, MSF moves beyond its modus operandi of sending isolated doctors to crisis zones in favour of creating a more structured organization that can provide quality medical services in crises.
  • Co-founder Dr. Bernard Kouchner leaves in protest and later founds Médecins du Monde/Doctors of the World.
 

1978: Refugee assistance

  • MSF launches refugee programs in Thailand, in the Ogaden region of Ethiopia, and for Eritreans in Sudan.
 

1976: War in Lebanon

  • MSF teams perform surgery in the organization’s first major intervention in a war zone.
 

1975: Cambodians flee Khmer Rouge

  • MSF establishes its first large-scale medical program during a refugee crisis, providing medical care for waves of Cambodians seeking sanctuary from Pol Pot’s rule.
 

1973: Hurricane in Honduras

  • MSF’s first long-term medical assistance mission.

1972: Earthquake in Nicaragua

  • The earthquake in Nicaragua marks MSF’s first mission in a disaster.
 

1971: MSF is founded

 
Médecins Sans Frontières is founded by a group of French doctors and journalists in the wake of war and famine in Biafra (now southeastern Nigeria), and floods in eastern Pakistan (now Bangladesh). Since its founding, MSF has treated over a hundred million patients — with 8.3 million outpatient consultations carried out in 2011 alone.
 
From its inception, MSF has proved to be unlike any other NGO. MSF remains fiercely independent of both governments and institutions, and its criticism of humanitarian action is frequently a thorn in the side of the aid establishment.

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