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Photo: Alexey Golikov
Press release, Moscow January 3, 2002 - Today the international humanitarian organization Medecins sans Frontieres (MSF) is launching a public awareness campaign for the homeless. Since the beginning of this winter, over 250 people have died of cold in Moscow's streets.
The campaign's posters, placed in the metro, ask Muscovites a simple question: "And you, without a home, could you survive?"
There are more than 100,000 homeless in Moscow. They have no homes, no documents, no jobs, and no rights. We often see them, but ignore them. The poster reminds us that the homeless are not faceless, and that behind the derogatory label of "Bomzh" there is a person - there are many persons - who are struggling to survive and are excluded from society.
MSF volunteers and staff members have faced and have fought against the consequences of this exclusion for 10 years. Every day, the MSF medical point located at 17, Krasnogvardeyskiy Boulevard, renders asssistance to homeless persons. It provides over 20,000 free medical consultations, and 8,000 social consultations per year.
Besides offering direct assistance, MSF has continually lobbied for the basic rights of the homeless, and these efforts have yielded results: local authorities in Moscow have recognized the problem of the homeless and have taken the decision to create a special center that will provide medical and social assistance to the homeless, allowing them to be heard and healed.
This decision taken by authorities proves that exclusion is "curable". But the posters remind us that if no action is taken today, indifference will kill tomorrow.