Migrants and Displaced Persons


of patients attending Doctors of the World healthcare and advice clinics in France are foreign nationals


million people in the world are migrants


million  people in the world have been forcibly displaced (UNHCR, 2013)


Poverty, hunger, discrimination, violence, war, the quest for freedom and a future for their children — so many reasons to compel people and families to flee their homelands and leave everything behind. But their journeys are fraught with yet more hardship and, once they finally reach the country they hope will offer them a better future, rejection and exclusion often await them. Access to healthcare is extremely limited for asylum seekers and undocumented migrants, with some countries providing them only with life-saving emergency care.

  • Aboud

    Aboud, aged 23

    “I’m from Darfur in North Sudan. I left hell behind me, because there’s a war there. They’re killing everyone and famine is everywhere. Before I left, I thought that  France was paradise. I thought it would be easy to get a house, a job, an education. Now I know how hard it is. It’s not what I thought it would be, but I’ve escaped from hell and at least there’s peace here.“

  • Ana, Honduras

    Ana, aged 27

    “I come from a little village in Honduras. One of my sisters went to live in Tapachula in the State of Chiapas in Mexico. I went with my mother and my daughter to join her. We had to cross Suchiate River on a raft because we had no documents. Life is easier and the economy is better In Tapachula than in Honduras. I work in a bar and I earn a decent living but people think we girls don’t deserve respect. I don’t have a residence permit so people are suspicious of me and I don’t dare go to the doctor.”

  • Armelle, aged 22

    “I have a daughter, she’s 9. She stayed in Cameroun when I came to live in France [Migrants]. I left for her, to be able to send her to school. I’m scared of becoming pregnant again. I don’t have enough money for a gynaecologist. I’ve heard about several contraceptive methods but I don’t trust them. They scare me.”

What we do

Campaigning to ensure access to healthcare for the most vulnerable is also to advocate for migrants to be provided similar access during their migratory journeys as well as in their host countries. By promoting in France and elsewhere these people’s access to regular care pathways, Doctors of the World seeks to combat discrimination and facilitate their integration.

Access to healthcare for migrants

In France, Doctors of the World assists vulnerable people, and these include migrants. Over 90% of those attending our 20 healthcare and advice clinics are foreign nationals. Volunteer doctors and nurses treat them and, when necessary, refer them to the facility best suited to their needs. They also help them to exercise their rights to health coverage.
We are calling for equal access to healthcare for people living in Europe, whatever their administrative status and financial resources. We advocate for the non-expulsion of seriously ill foreign nationals who cannot get medical care in their home countries and for them to be given a residence permit, a prerequisite to receiving satisfactory care.

Doctors of the World also implements specific prevention and awareness-raising initiatives in various different countries to address the needs of migrants. The aim is to limit the risks stemming from their living conditions as well as to inform them of their rights.


MdM advocates for the non-expulsion of seriously ill patients.”


Delivering assistance in transit zones

Doctors of the World also works in neighbourhoods and camps migrants transit through during their journeys. Our teams accompany patients to healthcare facilities and help them exercise their rights to health coverage in France as well as in Algeria and Mexico.

Committed to improving living conditions for migrants, we call for them to be provided with decent housing and sanitation. We advocate for a true right of asylum and for the European authorities to give these vulnerable populations guarantees of safety.

We deliver medical consultations in our mobile clinics and in health centres set up in camps in Somalia, Iraq and in Turkey on the border with Syria. We also provide psychological support to frequently traumatised refugees, such as Syrians who have taken refuge in Jordan and Lebanon, who are offered comprehensive psychiatric care when appropriate.


Doctors of the World campaigns for a true right of asylum.


© Olivier Papegnies
© Olivier Papegnies

Intervention location






Middle East

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