Doctors Without Borders Protests Comments by Bernard Kouchner in Jerusalem

For Immediate Release

Doctors Without Borders Protests Comments by Bernard Kouchner in Jerusalem

PARIS/JERUSALEM - During an October 5, 2008 press conference at the French consulate in
Jerusalem, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner made the following
statement: "Officially, we have no contact with Hamas, but
unofficially, international organizations working in the Gaza Strip-in
particular, French NGOs-provide us information."

Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is one of the organizations working in the Palestinian territories
and, specifically, in the Gaza Strip. MSF confirms that it has never
transmitted political information-officially or unofficially-regarding
Hamas or any other Palestinian political group to the French Ministry
of Foreign Affairs.

Once again, Mr. Kouchner's statements create confusion and harm MSF's
work in the field and with Palestinian civilians who have suffered
greatly from years of conflict. Confusing political activity and
humanitarian work is profoundly damaging to MSF's efforts, the security
of our teams, and the deployment of impartial and independent aid in
crisis areas.

MSF wishes to emphasize that independence from all governments and
interests (political, religious, economic, and military) is central to
its definition of humanitarian action. Since its founding in 1971, MSF
has provided aid on an independent, impartial, and neutral basis. These
principles, spelled out in the MSF charter, guarantee freedom of action
in the field. Similarly, MSF has chosen a policy of financial
independence, refusing any funding from the French government.

Mr. Kouchner left MSF in 1979. Since that time, he has had no involvement in or responsibility towards the organization.

A free and independent press is essential to the health of a functioning democracy

 

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