NPO Spotlight: Doctors Without Borders’ Response to the Migration Crisis

Brittany Dickey March 9, 2016 Nonprofits

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This article is part of the NPO Spotlight Series which highlights nonprofits who are doing excellent work. Nonprofits are a key part of our Global Good Network, and we’re consistently creating tools to help build connections between nonprofits and corporate employees.


Imagine being packed like cargo into a small shabby boat with 400 other people. Scared and cold, you watch as the smugglers attempt to steer the boat in vain. The ocean waves are too massive. As the boat rocks back and forth, all you hear are the cries of young children and the prayers of strangers.

When the boat finally sinks, chaos ensues. You try to scream for help, but your cries are unanswered. You swim as hard and as fast as you can, fighting to stay above the monstrous waves. You get separated from your mother during the commotion. Desperately, you search for her, but she is nowhere in sight. All you can see are strangers who are also swimming for their lives amidst the boat wreckage.

Just when you decide that you have no more strength to swim, you see a rescue boat in the distance. You’re one of the fortunate ones to be pulled from the savage ocean to the safety of the rescue boat. You sit there, freezing, exhausted and most of all devastated. This devastation numbs all the other sentiments. You pray that your mother is on another rescue boat and that one day you will see her again.

Although the above literary image is inconceivable, each year thousands of migrants flee war and violence in their countries to attempt this dangerous and sometimes deadly journey across the Mediterranean Sea to Europe.

According to the International Organization for Migration, more than 3,695 migrants are reported to have died trying to make the crossing in 2015 – most of them died on the crossing from North Africa. When Doctors Without Borders learned of the migrant crisis, they responded quickly and efficiently.

Founded in 1971, Doctors Without Borders provides assistance to populations in distress, victims of natural or man-made disasters, and victims of armed conflict. They do so irrespective of race, religion, creed, or political convictions. Staying true to their mission, the charity ran 120 separate search and rescue missions in 2015. In the 8 months that the charity had Bourbon Argos, a rescue ship at sea, 20,129 people were rescued.

Doctors Without Borders rescued people like Idowy, a mother of 4 who was living in Libya when the violence became too much for her and her family to bear. Men came in with guns, took her husband away, and threatened to kill Idowy and her children. Idowy and the kids fled to the seashore in a desperate search for a safer home. The family was rescued in the Mediterranean Sea last June. To learn more about Iodwy and her family, please click here.


Photo of African migrant family
Image Source: Francesca Mapelli, Stories from the Bourbon Argos


During the various rescue missions, doctors stated that they observed serious wounds, dehydration from the boat trips, and several pregnancies. In this crisis and in other crises worldwide, the charity does its best to provide a safe place for people to receive healthcare.

We are truly honored to disburse donations and grants to this wonderful organization.



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Doctors Without Borders is an international independent medical humanitarian organization that delivered emergency aid to people affected by armed conflict, epidemics, malnutrition, natural disasters, and exclusion from health care in 69 countries in 2015. Learn more about the organization here.


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