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Should we discriminate in order to act? Profiling: a necessary but debated practice

In October 2020, MSF organised a workshop in Dakar on staff profiling in operations in the Sahel. Profiling involves the selection of staff based on non-professional criteria, including nationality, skin colour, gender and religion. As such, it raises a number of ethical and practical concerns. As a result of profiling, US nationals have not been deployed in MSF operations in Colombia because of the risk of kidnapping, and Chadians and Rwandans have been excluded in the Central African Republic and eastern Democratic Republic of Congo respectively, because of regional conflicts.

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Tough choices: moral challenges experienced by aid workers during the Covid-19 pandemic

The truly unprecedented nature of the pandemic has mobilised and confused humanitarian NGOs and their staff as much. Forced inaction mixed with setting up programmes within a context of high uncertainty has resulted in strong, sometimes painful, moral experiences. The research project initiated within Médecins Sans Frontières Switzerland has already made it possible to collect useful data both for the present crisis and for others to come.

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Choices at the time of the climate emergency

Knowing about the discussions in progress at Médecins Sans Frontières, as well as the actions it intends to implement to adapt to climate change, provides precious insight. Though they speak in their own names, the five authors – from the Swiss and Canadian sections – say a lot about the ongoing debates within the movement, about the actions taken and about the possibilities for procrastination. Lessons that apply to the entire humanitarian community.

 

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Volunteers and responsibility for risk-taking: Changing interpretations of the Charter of Médecins Sans Frontières

The Charter of Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), the guiding document for all of the organization's members, states in the final paragraph that volunteers "understand the risks and dangers of the missions they carry out". Through a review of the different periods in the history of MSF, this article analyzes the changing interpretations that the organization's successive leaders have given to this reference to the acceptance of risk by individuals.

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Counterterrorism policies and practices: health and values at stake

The United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) used a fake vaccination programme to obtain DNA samples in the search for Osama Bin Laden, which caused distrust and hampered polio eradication and other public health efforts in Pakistan. The Obama administration’s vow that the CIA will never again exploit a vaccination programme in its counterterrorism efforts therefore came as welcome news to global health and humanitarian communities.
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Reconstruction of the health sector in Haiti: a missed opportunity?

The impact of the 2010 earthquake in Haiti was devastating for a country whose history was already marked by poverty, natural disasters, environmental degradation and political instability. An outbreak of cholera several months later further hampered reconstruction efforts. At the same time, this presented an opportunity to rebuild and develop the country, including an already extremely fragile and inequitable health system.
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Working in a prison in Myanmar: Médecins Sans Frontières’ experience working in Insein prison

Working in a prison for a humanitarian organisation is not easy, particularly because of the specific characteristics of such places. Médecins Sans Frontières’ experience working in Insein prison illustrates the difficulties of achieving objectives both in terms of results (long term provision of appropriate and full medical care to patients) and working conditions (minimal manipulation, indiscriminate access to patients, etc.).

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