Refugees and displaced persons

We have reached an all-time high with over 65 million forcibly displaced persons, including 21.3 million refugees (UNHCR, 2015).

Refugees and displaced persons

We have reached an all-time high with over 65 million forcibly displaced persons, including 21.3 million refugees (UNHCR, 2015).


Among the populations fleeing conflicts and disasters, some find themselves forced to leave their country to seek asylum in neighbouring countries or by travelling across large bodies of water to flee. The High Commissioner for the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) ensures that the basic human rights of all individuals are protected, and gives refugees the legal right to seek asylum. However, it is a daunting commitment for states and governments to protect the safety and security of refugees and asylum seekers.
Having fled with very few personal possessions, extremely vulnerable and deprived of all, refugees are also faced with a complex administrative situation, often waiting to register their asylum application before receiving official refugee status. In this situation, health is frequently overlooked and care is rare or difficult to access.

Internally Displaced Persons

People are forced to flee their homes due to conflict, fear of persecution, violence, and human rights violations. Some remain displaced within their own country without crossing an international border, and are referred to as internally displaced persons (IDPs). In this case, IDPs remain under the governance of their own country, however this could be the same regime that they are fleeing. Those fleeing natural disasters or conflicts are the most vulnerable to diminished quality of health and deprived of access to medical services.

The European Refugee Crisis

More than a million people, men, women, and children, have undertaken the crossing of the Mediterranean Sea to Europe since the beginning of 2015. This is a humanitarian challenge for Europe on an unprecedented scale since the end of World War II. People continue to risk their lives undertaking a perilous journey to seek safe asylum in Europe, many of whom have died during their efforts.



Since 2009, WAHA International has been active and provided medical care in refugees and internal displaced people crisis. We have been intervening in partnership with the UNHCR to provide primary health care and maternal and child health care. We have for example opened programs in Yemen, Kenya and in Ethiopia, where hundreds of thousands of Somali and Sudanese refugees are seeking safety.

In 2011, we began an intervention in northern Kenya in the refugee camps of Dadaab near Somali border to provide neonatal and obstetric care in partnership with Médecins du Monde. WAHA International has also been operating in the Bokolmayo Refugee camp in Dollo Ado, Ethiopia, since 2013.

With mobile and responsive teams, WAHA works in camps with persons fleeing conflicts in Somalia, South Sudan, Syria, and Iraq. WAHA International teams have responded to urgent needs in Mogadishu by setting up maternal and newborn care centers, in partnership with the Emirati Red Crescent.

WAHA International has also intervened in the internally displaced camps in Somalia to provide maternal care and establish an obstetric fistula treatment program.

Since the beginning of 2015, WAHA International has responded to the thousands of refugees arriving in Europe, fleeing the perilous conflicts in Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan. WAHA has deployed, in partnership with UNHCR, in Greece in Thessaloniki and especially in the islands of Lesbos, Chios and Kos, as well as in Turkey near Izmir, and in the Balkans in Serbia, Macedonia and Slovenia.

Since November 2015, WAHA has also been involved in Iraqi Kurdistan to provide care to internally displaced people driven from their homes by the arrival of the Islamic state and the consequences of the civil war in Syria.

WAHA also invests in lifesaving measures on the water with lifeboats in Chios to guide and save migrants crossing the Mediterranean as part of a larger response to the European Refugee Crisis.

WAHA International ensures that the most vulnerable of the population have access to health care services from rebuilding health centers, to offering maternal, neonatal and primary care. WAHA works to alleviate acute suffering among refugees and IDPs and to help regain their personal dignity no matter the circumstance.

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