Russian Federation

Ten years with the Moscow homeless - Any reason to celebrate?

The full report is available on MSF USA

When MSF began its program for the Moscow homeless population in May 1992, there were about 30,000 homeless persons in Moscow—30,000 persons with no access to medical or social services. In response, MSF started providing emergency medical consultations for them in the capital's train stations; the organization's main objective was, and today remains, to increase access to preventive and curative health care for the homeless and to facilitate their re-integration into society.

Today there are estimated to be over 100,000 homeless persons living in Moscow and over 4 million living across Russia. Yet still there is no social approach to the problem and no social answer. Last winter, 430 people, 90% of them homeless, died of cold in the streets. In the last year, 806 homeless persons died on the streets.

For 10 years, MSF has seen the homeless, listened to their suffering, offered them advice, cured their wounds, and defended their basic rights. Many tough questions arise when you look back at 10 years of work. And an essential one is: Are there reasons to celebrate this anniversary? The mere fact that our program has been running for 10 years is a sad sign that the problem still exists. But there are also positive results—signs that our daily refusal of the unacceptable has borne its fruits. It is these fruits—not always as big or as ripe as we would have liked them to be—that we have chosen to consider on our 10th anniversary.