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Our work for refugees and displaced persons

Years of civil war in Syria, violent clashes and persecution in various countries, natural disasters and epidemics, the effects of climate change, forgotten crises and the war in Ukraine: According to the United Nations (UNHCR), more than 100 million people are on the run worldwide in 2022. At the end of 2021, there were 89.3 million forcibly displaced people, more than half of whom (53.2 million) were living within their own countries as internally displaced persons.

Experts estimate that climate change, armed conflicts and social inequality will further exacerbate the situation.

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On the run: Health must not be left behind

According to the latest figures of the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), some 110 million people were on the run in 2022. This is the highest number recorded. Displaced individuals remain among the most vulnerable members of society and their health needs are often neglected. Many of them undertake long, exhausting journeys with inadequate access to food and water, sanitation, and other basic services, increasing their risk of getting sick. Crowded living conditions in refugee camps also contribute to the spread of communicable diseases. When people are on the run, it is especially maternal and child health that suffers due to limited access to specialized care. In addition, malnutrition is prevalent among the displaced, particularly children, because of food insecurity and inadequate nutrition. However, flight not only affects physical health, but also mental health and well-being as refugees frequently experience trauma, depression, and anxiety.

On the occasion of World Refugee Day, June 20th 2023, we are launching a digital campaign under the title „ On the run: Health must not be left behind “. With this campaign, we want to raise awareness about everyone ‘s right - regardless of their circumstances - to health and access to people-centered and high-quality health services.

More information about our campaign "On the run: Health must not be left behind"

Current situation: Why people have to flee

According to a UNHCR report most people continue to live on the run from the civil war in Syria: 6.9 million Syrians are internally displaced. In addition, the war has also driven 6.8 million people across the country's borders, mainly to neighboring countries (over three-quarters of Syrian refugees). About 42 percent of the refugees are children who have not only had to leave their homes, but have also often witnessed the deaths of family members and friends. According to reports, 83 percent of refugees find refuge in economically weak countries that have previously struggled with poverty and scarcity of resources. Most of the refugees live in extreme poverty and are in urgent need of help. (Source: UNHCR, as of end of 2021)



Syria: With more than 13 million refugees, the Syrian civil war is one of the biggest humanitarian crises of our time.



50 years of civil war and violent conflicts have resulted in numerous violent expulsions. According to UNHCR, there are 6.8 million people on the run within the country. At the same time, Colombia is a host country: more than 1.8 million refugees, mainly from Venezuela, live here.

DR Congo

The Democratic Republic of Congo is also affected by internal migration and expulsion: Due to political instability, wars and corruption 5.4 million people have fled already. 


Since August 2017 violence in Myanmar has caused hundreds of thousands of Rohingya to emigrate to Bangladesh. A total of 1.2 million people have fled Myanmar.

Ukraine: one of the largest displacement crises

The war in Ukraine has led to one of the largest displacement crises in the world. Millions of refugees have fled to neighboring countries, and many more have been displaced within the country.

We are supporting the people in need from Ukraine. We are working day and night in Ukraine, at the borders of neighboring countries, and in other countries where refugees are arriving, to help people fleeing the violence. We provide them with hot meals, water, blankets, medical and psychosocial care. Further aid and relief transports are being organized to support our teams in Ukraine.

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How do we help?

Together with local partners we have been providing cross-border medical support to people within Syria who cannot or do not want to leave the country and for those Syrians who have fled to neighbouring Türkiye and Lebanon. We have also expanded our emergency aid for refugees and displaced persons in northern Iraq.

Malteser International is not only committed to improving the living and health conditions of refugees and displaced persons in the Middle East, but also in many countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America.


World Refugee Day 2022: More and more people will flee because of hunger

Cologne. The number of people affected by hunger worldwide is rising rapidly. The causes are manifold: the catastrophic effects of climate change, wars and conflicts, and skyrocketing prices for wheat, cooking oil, fertiliser and petrol as a result of the Ukraine war. The hunger crisis exacerbated by the Ukraine war will also have an impact on refugee movements.

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World Refugee Day 2019

The World Refugee Day recognizes the strength, courage and endurance of millions of women, men and children who have been forced to leave their homes because of persecution, war and violence.

It is a reminder that refugees are not just numbers: People on the run have dreams and desires like everyone else. In our work we have spoken with refugees from different countries and let the answer one question: What do you dream of? Some have shared their experiences with us. Learn more about their tragic, yet also hopeful stories about having to leave their homeland. 


An insight into stories of people on the run

Reports on refugee aid:

Coronavirus in refugee camps

Millions of refugees and displaced people live in overcrowded camps under devastating conditions. An outbreak of COVID-19 would be a disaster.

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More support for countries hosting refugees

Malteser International is urging the international community to do more in helping developing nations respond to refugee situations.

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Mobile medical care for refugees and locals

Malteser International and the Lebanese Association of the Order of Malta are providing primary health care services through a mobile clinic in the province of Akkar.

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Giving a voice to fellow Syrians in exile

Betoul Abras worked in cooperation with Malteser International providing psychosocial support to refugees in Kilis, Türkiye.

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