October 14, 1999

International Medical Relief Organization Welcomes Support for Right to Humanitarian Assistance

Oslo, October 15, 1999 — The international medical relief organization Doctors Without /Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) was today awarded the international Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo. The award honors the extraordinary work of the organization's national and international relief workers who provide medical assistance in more than 80 countries, over 20 of which are in conflict.

"As entire families are chased from their homes in East Timor and as thousands more are targeted in conflicts around the world that don't make the headlines, the Nobel prize is an important confirmation of the fundamental right of ordinary people to humanitarian assistance and protection," said James Orbinski, M.D., the International Council President of MSF.

MSF has received this Nobel prize at a time when civilians are increasingly targeted in war and when basic humanitarian principles are under fire. For the MSF relief workers around the world, this prize indicates that there is a high level of public support for the right to humanitarian assistance, which is so often abridged during times of conflict.

MSF is a private, international medical relief organization aiding victims of armed conflict, epidemics, natural and man-made disasters, and others who lack health care due to social marginalization. The organization has a unique mandate to speak out against violations of humanitarian law that its medical teams witness in the course of providing aid. MSF demands full and unhindered freedom and access to populations in need to carry out its mandate.

Since its founding in 1971, MSF has worked to meet the medical needs of people too often forgotten by the world. At times it has been willing to engage in cross-border operations to meet the needs of patients and to aid local medical workers who have been cut off from assistance in their own countries. MSF volunteers have spoken out against genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity while pursuing its mandate to provide medical assistance to populations in danger.

"Today's Nobel Peace Prize is shared by the millions of people who support the work and principles of MSF and of humanitarian assistance," said Dr. Orbinski. "It is also shared by each of our volunteers and national staff who every day ensure that the right to humanitarian assistance remains a reality."

MSF has sections in 18 countries. In the United States, offices are located in New York City and Los Angeles.