FT Seasonal Appeal: A letter from the editor

In a year of crisis, the work of Médecins Sans Frontières has never been more vital
Image of Lionel Barber

The bombing of a hospital is a shocking and horrifying event. Last August, the hospital run by the humanitarian aid organisation Médecins Sans Frontières in Abs in north-west Yemen was hit by an air strike as it carried out its life-saving work. Nineteen people were killed, including one MSF staff member. 

Yemen is enduring a brutal civil war, and since MSF arrived in 2015 the facility had treated 4,611 patients. After the attack, MSF had to leave Abs — but it did not leave Yemen. It remains in the country in five other hospitals, and provides support for 18 more, bringing care where no other help exists.

MSF has been chosen by the staff of the FT as our partner for our 2016 Seasonal Appeal. In a year of global crisis, in which conflict and persecution have forced millions of people to flee their homes and countries in desperate circumstances, its work has never been more necessary.

MSF was founded in 1971, following the famine in Biafra. It has established missions in nearly 70 countries across the world, and in 1999 was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for its pioneering humanitarian work. 

Wherever it goes, MSF operates within its own strict guidelines. It gives free medical care based solely on need, regardless of politics or religion. It takes no side in any conflict and, to preserve its independence, it rarely accepts any funding from governments or institutions. Ninety per cent of its income comes in small amounts from individual donors.

These are principles the FT supports wholeheartedly.

For this year’s Appeal, FT writers have travelled with MSF to witness its work in action. The stories they have brought back are powerful and deeply moving.

From the Democratic Republic of Congo: David Pilling, the FT’s Africa editor, travels to a remote village hit by typhoid and joins the race to save the life of a young girl.

From Iraq: Erika Solomon meets a doctor who escaped Isis and accompanies him on his rounds in the vast Debaga refugee camp near Mosul.

From Haiti: Jude Webber sees premature babies and their impoverished young mothers receiving emergency care at the MSF specialist maternity clinic.

From Italy: James Politi joins MSF mental health teams giving “psychological first aid” to traumatised migrants from Africa, arriving by boat after a harrowing Mediterranean crossing.

Starting on November 24, these stories, and many more — told also through video, audio interviews and specially commissioned photography — will be published over the next three weeks in the FT and on ft.com. They are an eloquent testimony to a trailblazing organisation and to the brave people who work for it.

I hope you will join us in supporting MSF through the FT Seasonal Appeal.

Lionel Barber
Editor 

Read more FT stories about MSF’s work and donate at ft.com/seasonal-appeal


All donations received before January 31, 2017, will be matched, up to £300,000, by The ELMA Relief Foundation, a private charitable foundation that supports communities affected by man-made or natural disasters.

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