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MSF stops accepting funding from the EU and its member states

MSF stops accepting funding from the EU and its member states

Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has taken a principled stand to stop accepting funds from the European Union and Member States in protest at their policies towards refugees. The decision takes immediate effect and applies worldwide.

The decision comes three months after the implementation of the ‘one out, one in’ deal between the EU and Turkey. For each Syrian refugee trapped on the Greek islands who is returned to Turkey, one Syrian asylum seeker in Turkey will be accepted into Europe.

The deal has significantly reduced the number of refugees crossing to Greece, but at a great cost to the notion of protecting refugees in MSF’s view.

The charity wrote in May an open letter to the leaders of EU Member States and institutions expressing its profound concern about the deal.

Jerome Oberreit, International Secretary General of Médecins Sans Frontières, today said:

“For months MSF has spoken out about a shameful European response focused on deterrence rather than providing people with the assistance and protection they need. The EU-Turkey deal goes one step further and has placed the very concept of “refugee” and the protection it offers in danger.”

He announced today that the charity would no longer accept EU funding and funding from its constituent countries “in opposition to their damaging deterrence policies and intensifying attempts to push people and their suffering away from European shores”.


How much will this cost the charity?

Unlike some other international agencies, MSF does not rely primarily on major statutory grants for much of its work: 92% of its work is privately funded by 5.7 million individual supporters. Nevertheless it is currently in partnership with nine European Member States, including the UK.

In 2015, it received €19m funding from EU institutions and €37m from EU member states. In addition, it used €6.8m received from the Norwegian Government.

This is still a sudden drop in income for MSF. But its principled stance might well attract more donations or larger donations from existing supporters, who welcome its moral approach to funding. The organisation reassured donors via Facebook that:

“MSF will use our reserve funds, usually set aside for emergencies, to make sure this decision does not affect our patients”.

In the UK, the decision comes less than a week before Britons choose whether to remain or leave the European Union.

In the last 18 months MSF medics have treated an estimated 200,000 men, women and children in Europe and on the Mediterranean Sea. The organisation is currently caring for refugees and migrants in Greece, Serbia, France, Italy and on the Mediterranean as well as in countries across Africa, Asia and the Middle East.


Image: European map by Koya979 on


Howard Lake is a digital fundraising entrepreneur. Publisher of UK Fundraising, the world's first web resource for professional fundraisers, since 1994. Trainer and consultant in digital fundraising. Founder of Fundraising Camp and co-founder of Research massive growth in giving.

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