Humanitarian group worthy of accolades

Doctors Without Borders, a humanitarian group that is the latest recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, richly deserves the recognition of the Nobel Committee.
For almost 30 years, Doctors Without Borders has sent doctors into disaster areas to offer free medical treatment. Where the doctors are sent is not determined by the nationality or religion of the victims, nor by whether the disaster is natural or human created. The sole determining factor is where there is the most need.
The organization’s philosophy has at times caused it trouble. Doctors Without Borders came into existence in France when 10 doctors began to be concerned that traditional humanitarian groups only responded when a country’s official government requested aid. Since some crises occur because of a government’s irresponsibility, the group’s organizers wanted to start an organization that was able to send help regardless of any particular government’s wishes. On occasion, the actions of the group have been viewed negatively by governments that wished to avoid attracting attention to the plight of their citizens.
However, the group’s unflinching determination has ultimately earned it recognition and admiration. As the Nobel Committee said, “(They have) adhered to the fundamental principle that all disaster victims … have a right to professional assistance given as quickly and as efficiently as possible.” At times, this goal has led volunteer doctors to risk their own well-being when treating victims in war-torn areas.
While prizes have been consistently given to prominent individuals in the past, giving the prize to this humanitarian group marks an admirable departure. While no one would suggest that past recipients like Mikhail Gorbachev or Willem de-Klerk were not responsible for creating a more peaceful world, it is important to remember that the most prominent people are not always those who have the most difficult tasks.
The volunteers of Doctors Without Borders risk their lives for their beliefs and daily enrich the existence of those they help. Presidents and prime ministers get plenty of news coverage but conduct their meetings in luxury and risk little beyond political power to conduct their campaigns for peace. The volunteers of Doctors Without Borders practice medicine in burned-out houses and give up their vacations to treat earthquake victims while receiving little or no recognition. Their contributions to peace are made all the more important by the personal sacrifice made.
Doctors Without Borders is a worthy recipient of this year’s Nobel Peace Prize. The organization’s belief in ignoring nationality, color and religion, and focusing only on treating those in need has benefited innumerable victims of disasters. The Nobel Committee should continue to reward both organizations and individuals that work fervently to help all of humanity, rather than localizing their concerns to those with obvious similarities.