President of Doctors Without Borders says charities must admit that much of the country can’t be helped
The international president of Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), Dr Unni Karunakara, returned from Somalia last week and said that, even though there was chronic malnutrition and drought across east Africa, hardly any agencies were able to work inside war-torn Somalia, where the picture was “profoundly distressing”. He condemned other organisations and the media for “glossing over” the reality in order to convince people that simply giving money for food was the answer.
He said charities needed to start treating the public “like adults”. He went on: “There is a con, there is an unrealistic expectation being peddled that you give your £50 and suddenly those people are going to have food to eat. Well, no. We need that £50, yes; we will spend it with integrity. But people need to understand the reality of the challenges in delivering that aid. We don’t have the right to hide it from people; we have a responsibility to engage the public with the truth.”
“We’re being honest with donors and we have always been honest,” said Bray. “A drought is a natural occurrence; a famine is man-made. We don’t go around to people saying we have a magic wand, give us £5 and we will make Africa feed itself. We do say give us £5 and we won’t use it to give you a history of Somalia, but we will use our expertise to save lives. This is what the bargain is we make with our donors. If you support us, we will do our level best to alleviate the distress for those people in most dire need.” >continue<