September 05, 2017

Forced From Home Begins Western U.S. Tour on Pearl Street

BOULDER, SEPTEMBER 6, 2017—The international medical humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) opened Forced From Home, a traveling, interactive, outdoor exhibition on the global refugee and migration crisis, this week in Boulder.

The exhibition tells the human stories behind the headlines and numbing statistics of the refugee crisis, which has reached unprecedented levels. More than 65 million people around the world are displaced from their homes and face an uncertain future. MSF calls for greater international efforts to protect people fleeing for their lives from war or persecution.

“Our medical staff treat people uprooted by conflict and extreme violence all over the world,” said Jason Cone, executive director of MSF-USA. “MSF provides care along their dangerous journey—on rescue boats, in refugee camps, and health centers. Forced From Home provides an opportunity to bring our patients’ stories to the U.S. public, to humanize the refugee crisis, and to challenge political leaders at all levels of government to dramatically increase assistance and protections for refugees and asylum seekers.”

Tours of Forced From Home are guided by actual MSF aid workers who have directly witnessed the medical humanitarian consequences of displacement all over the world. Visitors navigate the 10,000-square-foot exhibition space to consider the inconceivable decisions and challenges faced daily by those who are displaced. Forced From Home is a key component of MSF’s efforts to advocate for concrete policy changes to meet the urgent needs of people on the run.

The exhibition reveals the direct harm caused when governments close borders, return people to places where they can face death or persecution, or leave them trapped in war zones and other situations of extreme danger. MSF calls upon all world leaders to honor their commitments under existing international refugee and human rights conventions.

Forced From Home illustrates the unique challenges encountered by refugees and migrants, including the causes of displacement, the perils of the journey to safety, legal obstacles, basic needs and medical requirements, and lack of shelter and food. Exhibition visitors, for example, will gain a sense of what it’s like to be squeezed onto an overcrowded rubber raft lost at sea, or to not have enough water for drinking or washing. They will also be confronted with the near impossible choices people must make when fleeing at a moment’s notice.

Visitors engage with materials and images gathered from refugee camps, sea rescue missions, and emergency medical projects to get a sense of what it truly means to be forced to flee. The immersive experience also incorporates virtual reality and 360-degree videos that take participants to Iraq, Lebanon, Mexico, Tanzania, and South Sudan—areas where large groups of displaced people currently reside.

“Boulder has also recognized the history, and supported the rights of, our own indigenous peoples in our community. The city places a strong emphasis on supporting the welfare and rights of those who do not have a voice and those who are less fortunate,” said Boulder Mayor Suzanne Jones. “The opportunity to host this exhibit is a physical display of Boulder’s values and aspirations, and a constant reminder that we all must play an active role in caring for all people if we are to live in a world that values diversity and human rights.”

“I’ve met with people in refugee and internally displaced persons’ camps from South Sudan, to Lebanon, and Mexico,” said Cone. “They are far from passive victims. They are mothers and fathers wanting the best possible future for their children. They are some of the bravest and most resilient individuals I have ever met. Through this exhibition, we want visitors to understand why so many risk it all, and decide that the open sea is safer than land. In short, we want to close the distance, to show the public what it looks like, feels like and what it means, to be forced from home.”

Forced From Home will be in Boulder at Courthouse Plaza on Pearl Street Mall until September 10. It is a free event that is open to the public. Further information on the exhibition and related events can be found at www.forcedfromhome.com. For tour updates, follow @ForcedFromHome on Twitter or Instagram.

Upcoming tour dates and cities:
• September 4-10: Courthouse Plaza on Pearl Street – Boulder, CO
• September 18-24: Library Plaza – Salt Lake City, UT
• October 2-8: South Lake Union Discovery Center – Seattle, WA
• October 16-22: Pioneer Courthouse Square – Portland, OR
• October 30-November 5: Henry J. Kaiser Convention Center – Oakland, CA
• November 13-19: Santa Monica Pier – Santa Monica, CA

MSF is an international, independent, medical humanitarian organization that delivers emergency aid to people affected by armed conflict, epidemics, natural disasters, and exclusion from health care. MSF offers assistance to people based on need, irrespective of race, religion, gender, or political affiliation.

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