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News for the Week of October 5, 1998
October 5, 1998
MSF Receives Prize
Worth $1 million, the Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian Prize was presented to MSF by former President George Bush at a ceremony in New York City on September 29. "This prestigious prize for MSF recognizes the often unheralded volunteers who put their careers on hold and regularly risk their lives to make the world a better place. The need for worldwide humanitarian aid is greater than ever. Famine, disease, and violence are threatening to overwhelm many developing countries. It is therefore crucial for humanitarian organizations to provide emergency aid to threatened groups of people," said the former US President at the award ceremony. John McGill, President of MSF-USA, accepted the prize on behalf of the organization and announced that part of the money would be used to expand MSF's relief projects in southern Sudan.
Pull Out of North Korea
MSF has been forced to withdraw its aid from North Korea (DPRK) this week, despite urgent medical and nutritional needs throughout the country. MSF was the largest medical organization working in North Korea and had tried to negotiate to have direct access to the population in order to assess needs, bring humanitarian assistance to those most at risk, and monitor aid distribution. The DPRK government, however, has failed to acknowledge that a nutritional emergency still exists and requested that MSF provide structural support to rebuild the national pharmaceutical industry. Since early June of this year, a high-level policy change to restrict and limit effective humanitarian aid has made it impossible to deliver aid in a principled and accountable manner. MSF calls upon all donor governments to review their aid policies towards the DPRK and demand more accountability.
Living Conditions Deteriorate Rapidly for Kosovo Albanians
MSF continues its emergency program in Kosovo, focusing its efforts on the plight of the 50,000 people forced out of their homes and living in woodland areas. Since our arrival in Kosovo five years ago, MSF teams based in Pec and Pristina have worked closely with the Kosovar agency Mother Theresa and the official health structures of the province. The current emergency relief program provides primary health care and emergency water and sanitation assistance (including water chlorination) in the Drenica, Metojiha and Prizren regions, and distributes relief supplies such as plastic sheeting, blankets, and jerry cans to the homeless.
New Office Opens in Berlin
MSF has opened a new office in Berlin for the purpose of increasing interest in MSF in the former East Germany, and recruiting volunteers and expatriates for MSF projects. "MSF is hardly known at all in East Berlin and the five new federal states of the reunified Germany," states Christine Schmitz, the coordinator for the new office. The German government will be moving to Berlin next year, and most of the ministries—including Foreign Affairs—will leave Berlin.