A Photo Essay: 9 Inspiring Faces Of Humanity When The Going Got Tough

On its 50th anniversary, MSF and Magnum Photos have published a book that captures the years of humanitarian crises

3 min read

In his book, Man’s Search For Meaning, Viktor Frankl wrote, “For the world is in a bad state, but everything will become still worse unless each of us does his best.”

War, conflict and natural disasters continue to ravage countries across the world. Which has forced to millions of people to become homeless and stateless. There are now 82 million forcibly displaced people around the world—more than at any time in modern history. Perhaps, the greatest misconception is that any conflict is limited to that region alone. The decades of war in the Middle East and photographs of people clutching to their dinghy as they brave the English Channel to re-start a new life in a European country have shown that any conflict has far-ranging ramifications.

As Fred Ritchin, Dean Emeritus of the International Center of Photography (ICP) explains, “Personally, I was haunted by the images of people starving to death, by their extraordinary grace in the face of adversity, by the responsibility of possessing these photographs, by the sense that people needed to know the misery of others in order to respond. They resonated with me, linked to the oft-repeated hope that if only there had been more images of the World War II concentration camps published then the devastating consequences of the Holocaust might have been lessened.”

But documenting a crumbling region is just the first step to aiding the vulnerable. Since its inception in 1971, the emergency aid organization Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) has delivered crucial aid in regions where others struggled. Founded by a group of French doctors and journalists, MSF provides relief and assistance to the distressed across the world. Medical and non-medical action is the heart of its mission; bearing witness is inseparable from that. Over the last 50 years, MSF often has been the first responder to any unfolding crises - Whether it is a small team of medics treating the wounded in Beirut’s besieged Nabaa-Borj Hammoud district in 1975 or offering logistical support to those displaced in Darfur in 2003 when they were caught in the crossfire between rebel groups and the Janjaweed militia armed by the Sudanese national government.

On the occasion of its 50th anniversary, MSF (Doctors Without Borders) has collaborated with Magnum Photos and published a unique book that revisits the last fifty years. Founded two years after the apocalyptic World War II, Magnum Photos is the world’s most prestigious photographic agency. Formed by four photographers who lived through the horrors of the war, capturing it one frame at a time, Magnum Photos today is a platform that has gone above recognizing the commitment of photojournalists. It is a global community that invites everyone who wants to show the world how survivors are fighting to live, explain their grievances, and talk truth to power.

MSF and Magnum have collectively probed their archives and documented the years of crises in a historical book composed of their shared experiences. Get your copy of the book here!

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Topics:  Afghanistan   Thailand   Syria