In 1999, the Nobel Prize for Peace was won by the organization known as “Doctors Without Borders.” This is the English name of the organization, based in Belgium, which won the prize for its humanitarian assistance to people around the world, in areas that have been struck by disaster.
The fundamental ideas of Doctors Without Borders is that people who suffer from a disaster have the right to receive professional help as soon as possible. The organization helps people regardless of their nationality, race, religion, ethnicity, sex, or political opinions. Also, the assistance provided by Doctors Without Borders is given in response to all kinds of disasters, such as famines, earthquakes, and wars.
The people who belong to Doctors Without Borders are experienced medical workers who volunteer their time, effort, and skills in an attempt to help people who are in need. These volunteers include doctors, nurses, surgeons, anesthetists, laboratory technicians, and other medical workers. There are also some non-medical volunteers who work for Doctors Without Borders in positions of administration or logistics.
Volunteers must first take a course before participating in a humanitarian mission. They promise to abide by a code of professional ethics, and they promise to remain neutral in any conflicts within a disaster area. A mission typically lasts about six months, but the duration varies. The volunteers are insured by the organization, but they are not paid in any way for their work.
When Doctors Without Borders began in 1971, it consisted of only a few French doctors who wanted to provide humanitarian aid to people in disaster areas. Over the years, it grew rapidly, and by 2001, Doctors Without Borders had 2500 volunteers working in 80 countries around the world. They have helped people by providing emergency health care, vaccinations, medicine, water, and basic food, and also by developing improved water and sanitation systems. In many areas, Doctors Without Borders has also helped to provide basic medical training to local people.
Although Doctors Without Borders remains neutral in any conflicts within a disaster area, the organization does speak out against abuses of human rights. By remaining independent of the influence of governments and corporations, Doctors Without Borders is able to criticize the people and organizations who cause suffering. The volunteers are witnesses who tell the world about the cruelty that is inflicted upon innocent people.
Obviously, the work of Doctors Without Borders is extremely important. The volunteers of this organization are brave and selfless people whose efforts have relieved the suffering of millions of people.