Despite Record Displacement Worldwide, Resilient Men and Women Give Back

(Portland, OR) June 13, 2024 – Medical Teams International, a global health and humanitarian relief organization, is uniting with organizations around the world to mark World Refugee Day on Thursday, June 20. On this important occasion, Medical Teams is highlighting the many people we serve who have been forced to leave home by violence – and who choose to give back by serving in their new refugee settlements.

This extraordinary resilience and moral beauty shown by refugees every day is inspiring. As the U.N. Refugee Agency just announced, the world has reached the highest number of forcibly displaced ever recorded, at approximately 120 million people worldwide. Yet as the world has reached this grim milestone,  there has also been a rise in refugee volunteerism. This is especially notable given the circumstances in which many people leave home. Every day, families and individuals flee in search of safety and basic necessities, like food and health care. They arrive at transit points with little more than the clothes on their backs. Many are highly skilled, educated, and eager to participate in the health and well-being of the communities they now call home.

For example, in Sudan, where the world’s largest displacement crisis is underway, Medical Teams has trained and works alongside approximately 600 community health volunteers. They are instrumental in helping Medical Teams provide timely, critical care to children and families in refugee camps, screening for diseases like malaria and cholera and helping to monitor cases of malnutrition. This is especially important in Sudan, where civil war has nearly destroyed all of the country’s health infrastructure.

“Last year, despite forced displacement reaching a record high, UNHCR received funding to cover less than a third of its global budget,” said Lauren Taylor, Medical Teams Chief of International Programs. “Funding shortfalls in the humanitarian sector are all too common and put millions of lives at risk around the world. As a result, private funding from individuals, corporations, and foundations is absolutely critical to Medical Teams to enable us to leverage the institutional funding we receive and ensure appropriate life-saving medical care to refugees. Each and every dollar counts in our work, and has the power to alleviate suffering and save lives. As we maximize this funding, we are very grateful for all our community volunteers.”

Refugees and people who have been internally displaced prove time and time again that they are resilient, resourceful, and motivated to create a better future for their families and communities. For example, in Ethiopia, more than 4 million people are internally displaced. There is also a growing number of refugees entering from nearby countries, such as Eritrea and Sudan. In instances like this, volunteers also serve as a valuable part of restoring the social fabric of communities. For people who have just arrived or are isolated from their families, having the comfort of a community health worker check-in is just as valuable to their health as a medical exam.

Below are just a few of Medical Teams’ community health volunteers in Ethiopia:

Mohammad Deresa, 48

Berahle Refugee Health Center

A medical professional for 15 years before fleeing Eritrea, Mohammad was invited by Medical Teams to volunteer and enjoys working collaboratively with four other volunteers at the Center. Says Mohammad, “The arrival of Medical Teams in the Berhale refugee community came at a crucial time when there was a dire need for clinical care services following the war. Since then, we have witnessed a significant decrease in mortality rates.”

Kiffa Baderdin Abdela, 27

Kurmuk Refugee Transit Center, Benishangul Gumuz

Kiffa is a Sudanese refugee who personally experienced the loss of loved ones and property in Khartoum shortly after the war started in April 2023. He had to withdraw from his nursing studies with only one year left to obtain his degree. He decided to volunteer in Kurmuk after having experienced the “exceptional health services” provided there by Medical Teams.

Semira Edris, 30


Semira, from Eritrea, has been a refugee for 11 years. She is married and has a 4-year-old daughter. She discovered Medical Teams when she visited a local facility for health care. “As a Medical Teams volunteer, I interact with beneficiaries on a daily basis and have formed connections with them, as well as with staff and other individuals from various nationalities.”

For more information about Medical Teams or to give, visit

About Medical Teams International

Founded in 1979, Medical Teams International provides life-saving medical care for people in crisis, such as survivors of natural disasters and refugees. We care for the whole person— physical, emotional, social and spiritual. Daring to love like Jesus, we serve all people—regardless of religion, nationality, sex or race. Learn more at and on social media using @medicalteams.