Médecins Sans Frontières International

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Seventy-second World Health Assembly (A72/1)
Agenda Item: 
12.4 Promoting the health of refugees and migrants

MSF continues to bear witness to State policies that negatively affect the health of migrants and refugees. As a leading global health actor, the WHO has the means to expose the impact of such exclusionary migration policies, and must urgently do so.

States’ refusal to ensure safe forms of passage have forced people to undertake dangerous journeys in pursuit of safety and security. Without adequate search and rescue operations, the central Mediterranean remains among the world’s deadliest migratory routes where 1 in every 11 people have died.

States increasingly resort to containment and detention, jeopardising the well-being and dignity of people on the move. MSF teams have assisted people suffering from malnutrition in Libyan detention centres, and provided psychological care for people living in inhumane conditions on the Greek islands. In Nauru the mental health needs of asylum seekers are among the most severe MSF has ever reported worldwide.

People on the move are excluded from health systems due to discrimination, the criminalisation of irregular migration, and many other barriers. From Mexico to Malaysia, undocumented migrants refrain from seeking care due to the risk of being reported to immigration authorities.

In situations of protracted humanitarian crisis, governments have an obligation to offer assistance and protection to displaced persons. However, two years since the forced displacement of an additional 700000 Rohingya, many still live in precarious conditions and are completely dependent on humanitarian assistance.

Policies and programmes must ensure the well-being, safety and dignity of all people regardless of their legal status. All States must uphold the right to the highest attainable standard of health for all people, without discrimination. It is imperative that people on the move receive adequate care in transit and destination countries, and that no one is returned to places where access to healthcare cannot be guaranteed