MSF in 2021:
A year in pictures

A year of responding to crises in images

In 2021, the COVID-19 pandemic continued unabated around the world, as did the work our teams undertook to respond to it. But the pandemic took a backseat in many countries, as other crises and needs overtook the concerns of the people we assist.

Our teams responded to crises of conflict and displacement. We cared for people with malnutrition and malaria. We supported people who were subjected to sexual violence and rescued those who were in danger crossing the Mediterranean Sea. We saw consequences of the climate emergency.

This collection of 54 images, taken between November 2020 and December 2021, was chosen from among an estimated 8,000, from among the around 75 countries we work in. In these images, staff and professional photographers from around the world have captured just some of the stories of people and patients, and our work with them, bearing witness to an essential humanitarian need – access to medical care.

Josias was taking a shower, when he unexpectedly fainted. Family members rushed him to hospital, where he was admitted, and tested for COVID-19. After his result came back positive, he was transferred to the field hospital, where he says he was treated well. Eastern Cape, South Africa, February 2021.

A member of the MSF team sprays for pest control, in the Juan Orlando Hernandez community of Choloma. Honduras, April 2021.

MSF logistics supervisor Mohammed Korma stands amid the solar panels that MSF has installed to run Hangha hospital with clean energy. Kenema district, Sierra Leone, June 2021.

Hameeda looks at an x-ray of her lungs, following her successful treatment for multidrug-resistant tuberculosis using newer oral drugs. Baghdad, Iraq, September 2021.

Midwife Sylvie feels the pregnant belly of Octavie, who, after complications and five hours of labour, delivers a healthy baby boy at Nzacko health centre. Central African Republic, July 2021.

A patient at Hôpital Immaculée Conception receives treatment from an MSF physiotherapist, following injuries sustained in the 14 August earthquake. Les Cayes, Haiti, September 2021.

Four-year-old Hala is carried by her father, Mohammed, before she goes in for surgery. Hala’s right foot was crushed by a car and she needs multiple surgeries to repair the damage. Treatment for trauma injuries can be challenging in the blockaded Gaza Strip. Palestine, August 2021.

A volunteer from Polish organisation Fundacja Ocalenie covers refugees with sleeping bags. An MSF team accompanied a team from Fundacja Ocalenie into a forested area near the Polish/Belarusian border, where they met a family of 13 Iraqi Kurds, including four children, on the Polish side. The family asked for asylum in Poland and were taken by the Polish border guards back to the emergency state zone at the Belarusian border. The next day, they sent their location indicating that they were back on the Belarusian side of the border. Narewka, Poland, October 2021.

Midwife Odette accompanies Amatou (lying down in the pirogue), who is pregnant and about to give birth, across the river to be transferred to the MSF-supported hospital in Bangassou, to receive treatment following complications that can’t be managed in the MSF-supported Ndu health centre. Central African Republic, January 2021.

France receives help to get undressed, so that MSF medical staff at SICA hospital can change the dressing and check a chest wound, the result of a stray bullet. Bangui, Central African Republic, February 2021.


People start to rebuild shelters among the burnt-out remains of a part of Cox’s Bazar refugee camp for Rohingya people that was destroyed by fire. Bangladesh, March 2021.

Baby Dawit was born prematurely, weighing only 1.2 kilograms. His mother, Mebruit, gave birth to Dawit at MSF’s maternity clinic in Al-Tanideba camp. Sudan, July 2021.

Barbara has a 24-month-old son. She wants to protect herself from having more babies in the short term, but the economic situation makes access to oral contraceptives difficult. “To buy a box of pills that lasts only a month, I would have to spend two or three weeks working, without spending money on anything else,” she explains. Sucre state, Venezuela, May 2021.

An elderly woman is vaccinated against COVID-19 by a member of MSF’s mobile vaccination team at a nursing home in Shayle. Mount Lebanon governorate, Lebanon, June 2021.

A woman with COVID-19 is carried out to an ambulance, which will take her to the airport to be then transferred to Manaus, the capital of Amazonas state, for further treatment. Tefé, Brazil, December 2020.

Jean-Claude pushes his bike full of jerry cans for clean water; the need for clean water became critical in the wake of the eruption of the Nyiragongo volcano on 22 May. Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo, June 2021.

Vitalii swallows his pills to treat drug-resistant tuberculosis at his home in Chudniv village. Zhytomyr region, Ukraine, June 2021.

Airport staff load the first of 100 tons of material onto two cargo planes destined for Haiti, to respond in the wake of a 7.2 magnitude earthquake. The cargo includes items for setting up emergency medical structures; materials to install drinking water supply systems for 30,000 people; and medical supplies for the care of 30,000 patients. Brussels, Belgium, August 2021.

A man looks down at the external fixators on his legs, severely injured during the 7.2 magnitude earthquake on 14 August. Tabarre trauma hospital, Port-au-Prince, Haiti, August 2021.

People charge phones and power banks from electrical outlets in a shelter, managed by volunteers, for migrants crossing from Italy to France. Turin, Piedmont region, Italy, December 2020.

Anapiya, right, reassures her young daughter as she gets a medical check-up at the Kok-Tash family medical centre. Batken oblast, Kyrgyzstan, May 2021.

Christine holds her baby son in the old church in Drodro, to where she fled following the attack on her village by armed groups. Ituri province, Democratic Republic of Congo, March 2021

Malnourished children are being fed by their mothers at MSF’s Inpatient Therapeutic Feeding Centre at Herat Regional Hospital. The centre is overcrowded: there are actually 84 patients for 60 beds, with some mothers having to share one bed for two children. Afghanistan, October 2021.

Dieudonné surveys the ruined houses in his Goma neighbourhood, destroyed by lava flows following the eruption of the Nyiragongo volcano on 22 May. Democratic Republic of Congo, June 2021.

A tuk-tuk used by MSF to spread health promotion messages on how to avoid COVID-19 moves through the lanes of Mumbai’s M-East Ward district. India, May 2021.

The empty playground behind the barbed wire of the brand-new migrant reception centre, just outside of Vathy. Samos, Greece, May 2021.

The Milky Way rises on the remains of the ‘boat cemetery’ of Lampedusa. The boats used by people crossing the Mediterranean sea are pulled out of the water, brought on to the beach and piled up in strategic points on the island, before being demolished. Lampedusa, Italy, September 2021.

A man surveys his destroyed house in the village of Bisober. Tigray region, Ethiopia, December 2020.

MSF medical staff bandage the wounds of a Palestinian man injured by Israeli police during clashes in Jerusalem. Palestine, May 2021.

Ten-year-old Habiba lives with Type 1 Diabetes and needs to inject insulin twice every day. She was taught by MSF to inject herself and carries her insulin home, storing it in a portable cooler. Dadaab refugee camp, Kenya, May 2021.

An MSF convoy crosses the river on the way back to Bangassou, following a mobile clinic session in Nzacko. Central African Republic, July 2021.

The tents of internally displaced people stretch out across a camp in northwest Syria, in which very poor living conditions and a lack of clean water pose serious health risks. Syria, September 2021.

Anopheles mosquitoes caught in a trap are examined by the light of a torch. MSF epidemiologists capture and study the mosquitoes, which transmit malaria, to design strategies to control them and prevent malaria in communities in Sucre state. Venezuela, August 2021

A member of the MSF team on board search and rescue ship the Geo Barents, communicates with the aerial observation plane Colibri, from Pilotes Volontaires, which has spotted a rubber boat in distress carrying 54 people. Central Mediterranean Sea, September 2021.

188 people sit on an overcrowded wooden boat, as teams from the MSF search and rescue ship, the Geo Barents, approaches to rescue them. Central Mediterranean Sea, August 2021.

An MSF team from search and rescue ship the Geo Barents reaches a rubber boat with 95 people on board, just before it was intercepted by the Libyan Coast Guard. MSF teams arrived on time to carry out the rescue safely. Central Mediterranean Sea, October 2021.

The Geo Barents rescues 99 people from an overcrowded wooden boat, which had been adrift for 13 hours. At the bottom of the wooden boat, 10 people were found dead, having been asphyxiated by petrol fumes. Central Mediterranean Sea, November 2021.

Two men use a canoe to navigate through floodwaters on the outskirts of Bentiu internally displaced people’s camp. South Sudan, November 2021.

In the late afternoon sun, people carry on with their daily tasks in the makeshift Tsuya internally displaced people’s camp. The camp, which has been set up around the Catholic church in Drodro, accommodates approximately 20,000 people. Drodro, Ituri province, Democratic Republic of Congo, March 2021.

Nanette, a survivor of sexual violence, poses for a portrait. In 2014, she went to investigate violence in her hometown where she saw pigs eating corpses, and the bodies of her parents in a river. While she was documenting the scene, she was surrounded by a group of men, overpowered, and then raped. Her association works with MSF’s Tongolo centre to care for victims and survivors of sexual violence. Bangui, Central African Republic, December 2020.

An MSF surgical team prepares to amputate the leg of a patient with a severe leg injury in Tabarre trauma hospital. Port-au-Prince, Haiti, December 2020

An MSF mobile team, including medical and non-medical staff, unloads equipment to provide training to staff working in a nursing home on how to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Slovakia, March 2021.

MSF staff walk part of the snow-covered trail in the mountains northwest of Turin, used by people seeking to cross from Italy to France. MSF teams monitor the situation and provide support to a number of volunteer organisations who support migrants making the journey along the trail. Italy, December 2020.