Source description last updated: 5 October 2018

In brief: Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is an independent international humanitarian organisation working to deliver medical aid and offer assistance to people in need worldwide.

Coverage on
Articles (Appeal or News Release), Press Releases (Appeal or News Release), Reports (Special or Analytical Report)
Covered weekly on, for countries of priorities A-C.

“Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) was founded in 1971 in France by a group of doctors and journalists in the wake of war and famine in Biafra, Nigeria. Their aim was to establish an independent organisation that focuses on delivering emergency medicine aid quickly, effectively and impartially.” (MSF website: Who we are, undated)

As set out in the MSF Charter, “Médecins Sans Frontières provides assistance to populations in distress, to victims of natural or man-made disasters and to victims of armed conflict. They do so irrespective of race, religion, creed or political convictions.
Médecins Sans Frontières observes neutrality and impartiality in the name of universal medical ethics and the right to humanitarian assistance and claims full and unhindered freedom in the exercise of its functions.
Members undertake to respect their professional code of ethics and maintain complete independence from all political, economic or religious powers.” (ibid.)

According to the MSF website, the organisation’s actions are “first and foremost medical.” (ibid.)

“[T]he principles of impartiality and neutrality are not synonymous with silence. When MSF witnesses extreme acts of violence against individuals or groups, the organisation may speak out publicly.” (MSF Belgium website: MSF Charter and Principles, undated)

“In 2017, more than 6.3 million individual donors and private institutions (private companies and foundations) provided 96 per cent of the €1.53 billion raised. Our funding relies largely on individuals donating small amounts.” (MSF website: Reports and Finances, undated)

Scope of reporting:
Geographic focus: all countries
Thematic focus: armed conflict, natural disasters, endemic and epidemic disease, migration, social violence and healthcare exclusion

MSF conducts quantitative surveys and qualitative interviews and obtains information from MSF health facilities and medical personnel in the relevant regions. (see, for example, the following reports: MSF: "No one was left"; Death and Violence Against the Rohingya in Rakhine State, Myanmar, 9 March 2018, pp. 25-26 and MSF: North-east Nigeria Case Study, April 2017, p. 6)

Language(s) of publications:
English, French, Spanish and other languages

Further reading / links:
Nobel Foundation: The Nobel Peace Prize 1999

Redfield, Peter: Life in Crisis: The Ethical Journey of Doctors Without Borders, 2013

Austrian section:  
German section:

All links accessed 5 October 2016.
All documents available on from this source