Accessibility links

Doctors Without Borders Displays Refugee Camp in New York City


Doctors Without Borders, also known as Medicines Sans Frontieres, or MSF, is taking its work on the road - in the United States. The non-governmental organization is hoping a multi-city public education campaign will help draw attention to its work and the plight of the people it helps.

The US Committee for Refugees says there are 33 million refugees in the world. More than 20 million are internally displaced people seeking safety from conflict in their own countries.

This human tragedy is a way of life that Doctors Without Borders Project Coordinator Brett Davis experienced first-hand while working in the Darfur region of Sudan. "I think it's really difficult to try to explain it. It's something that you really have to experience to understand the hardship people go through."

And Doctors Without Borders is now attempting to recreate that experience for people in the United States.

Here in the heart of Brooklyn, the rolling green fields of Prospect Park are transformed into a makeshift refugee camp.

The exhibit is filled with actual items the organization uses in the field. The simple straw huts and plastic tarp tents stand in stark contrast to the expensive apartment buildings just meters away.

It is a way of life many of the thousands of people who wandered through the exhibit have never experienced, or witnessed first-hand.

That's one of the goals of this campaign, according to Doctors Without Borders U.S. Executive Director Nicholas de Torrente. Another goal is to draw the attention of visitors and the media to what he calls lesser-known crises throughout the world such as Colombia and Congo. "The media often doesn't pay attention to these crises, these conflicts, and we call them neglected or under reported, so I think that there is a big gap there in terms of media coverage of what's happening in some of these areas."

Some familiar Hollywood faces are helping the effort to raise awareness. Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie made news with a $1 million donation to Doctors Without Borders while the exhibit was on display in New York.

"She gave us an unrestricted gift which basically allows us to do the work, be true to humanitarian principles which is to go where the needs are the greatest, to help people who are in the most difficult conditions," explained de Torrente. "That money doesn't have strings attached."

While money and awareness go a long way in helping the organization alleviate suffering, it doesn't solve all its problems.

Doctors Without Borders considers the security situation in Iraq too great a risk for its staff. In 2004, the group shut down operations in the war torn country and has not been able to return.

The Doctors Without Borders "Refugee Camp in the Heart of the City" plans to make stops in Atlanta and Nashville later this year.

XS
SM
MD
LG