Doctors Without Borders Accused of ‘Institutional Racism’ by Employees

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Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders/MSF) has been accused of reinforcing “colonialism and white supremacy” by 1,000 current and former employees in a letter to the NGO’s management.

The signatories have demanded an investigation into the activities of the NGO, which provides medical services around the globe and also previously engaged in transporting migrants across the Mediterranean from North Africa.

Several prominent members of the NGO spoke out about the group’s perceived faults including board members in the UK and in southern Africa who signed the letter that called on the group to get rid of “decades of power and paternalism”, Franceinfo reports.

Other signatories to the letter denounced a so-called “white saviour” mentality among members of the organisation.

According to The Guardian, the letter came in response to a statement released by the Italian branch of MSF that stated members of the group should talk about how “all lives matter”, with some seeing the phrase as conflicting with the Black Lives Matter movement.

Claudia Lodesani, Italy’s MSF president, later apologised for the statement saying that she and the Italian branch “fully support and stand with the BLM movement and that, like the whole of MSF, we condemn racism and all discrimination”.

Dr Christos Christou, international president of MSF, said he welcomed the letter. Dr Christou said: “Our priority is to shift the decision-making closer to where the needs are, and involving the patients and community in designing strategies of intervention. To shrink the decision-making power of Europe and redistribute it to the rest of the world.”

MSF halted its partnership with the French migrant transport NGO SOS Méditerranée in April. But the latter NGO and its ship, the Ocean Viking, have resumed operations in recent weeks.

Earlier this month, the Ocean Viking picked up around 180 migrants but was initially denied access to ports in Italy and Malta. The ship was later granted access to a port in Italy after unrest among the migrants on board was reported, including several threats to the crew and suicide attempts by migrants.

Follow Chris Tomlinson on Twitter at @TomlinsonCJ or email at ctomlinson(at)


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