An extraordinary year

Souleman, Layla and their two-year-old son Cillian were rescued from a rubber boat in distress during the maiden voyage of the Sea-Watch 4. An MSF team on the ship was providing critical medical care to people trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea, many of them fleeing crises. When Souleman was rescued, he asked for a pen to write an open letter to Europe to share his story. He wrote: “I found a smile again. That is after more than three years of torture, forced labour, sleepless nights…Libya for me is hell on earth.” The Sea-Watch 4 has been kept in port by Italian authorities since September, preventing it from resuming lifesaving activities. Mediterranean Sea, 2020. © Hannah Wallace Bowman / MSF

2020 was a year like no other. With the world in the throes of a global pandemic, Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) teams in more than 70 countries continued to provide basic medical care in crises, to people facing violence or neglect, to communities lacking access to lifesaving healthcare.

A diverse range of staff, local and agency photographers capture the stories of the people we support and of MSF teams at work every day. The COVID-19 pandemic resonates in so many of these images.

MSF surgeons caring for patient on a bed (Cameroon)
MSF surgeons provide care to a patient at St. Mary hospital in Bamenda. He was attacked on the road by armed men, who tortured him and shot him five times. MSF medical teams have been responding to the severe and ongoing effects of the crisis in Northwest and Southwest Cameroon since 2018. Our teams provide neutral and impartial humanitarian assistance through our emergency ambulance referrals, secondary care and a decentralized model of community care. Cameroon, March 2020. © Albert Masias / MSF
Health worker in PPE talking to a family during house visit
A municipal health worker talks to a family during house-to-house visits on the shores of Lake Mirini in the Amazon region. MSF teams have supported local health authorities during the pandemic, including with oxygen cylinders and concentrators, COVID-19 testing and palliative care. Brazil, July 2020. © Diego Baravelli 
People and livestock crossing river from Ethiopia to Sudan
The Hamadayet border crossing, where refugees from Ethiopia cross the river into Sudan. People have whatever belongings they could carry — some have their livestock, others leave with nothing as they flee the ongoing violence in Ethiopia’s Tigray region. MSF teams are providing emergency medical care in areas of the region, as well as assisting Ethiopians who cross the border into Sudan. Sudan, November 2020. © Jason Rizzo / MSF 
Nurse in COVID-19 PPE – face mask, shield, and gloves.
“I contracted COVID-19 while on duty,” says Ansaf, a nurse aid working at the MSF-supported Sheikh Zayed COVID-19 centre in Sana’a. Her face shield reads: “One day, we will drop the masks, and the smiles will shine once again.” Yemen, July 2020. © MSF / Maya Abu Ata 
Child on stretcher being cared for by MSF staff after Beirut explosion
Four-year-old Hamza, injured in the explosion in Beruit’s harbour on Aug. 4, receives wound treatment from MSF. MSF set up medical points in the Mar Mikhael and Karantina neighbourhoods, two of the areas hardest hit by the explosion. Staff provided wound care, consultations for people with non-communicable diseases, as well as psychological first aid. Lebanon, August 2020. © Mohamad Cheblak / MSF
Mother holding child while MSF staff administers measles vaccine.
Mariam Maïga has brought her son to be vaccinated against measles during a campaign carried out by MSF and the Ministry of Health in Timbuktu region. The campaign aimed to vaccinate 95 per cent of children aged between six months and 14 years against measles. Mali, September 2020. © MSF / Mohamed Dayfour 
MSF patient Phenduka Mtshali wearing medical mask
Phenduka Mtshali, a patient with drug-resistant tuberculosis (DR-TB), speaks with an MSF staff member at her home in Mbongolwane. This rural area of South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal province is the epicentre of South Africa’s HIV and TB epidemic. MSF is piloting a model of care there to prevent the spread of TB. South Africa, March 2020. © MSF / Tadeu Andre