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We Need Local Support To Achieve Our Global Goals, Doctors Without Borders Says

Prof Nnaji(2nd left) flaked by Hus visitors

One of the world’s foremost humanitarian organizations, Medicines Sans Frontieres(MSF), also known as Doctors Without Borders, can work effectively only when it enjoys the support of leaders where it operates, according to its team currently on a tour of Nigeria’s Southeast geopolitical zone.

The team told the Geometric Power chairman, Professor Bart Nnaji, in his residence in Enugu today that local support has become more crucial because of the nature of the operations of the organization which won the 1999 Nobel Prize for Peace for its extraordinary efforts in crisis places throughout the world.

“While some other international organizations work in conflict places just to save lives”, the MSF special adviser to the Nigerian office, Professor Simeon Alozieuwa, told Nnaji, “we not only save lives and ameliorate sufferings worldwide, we also speak out against acts that offend human dignity”.

The policy of “see something and say something”, explained Alozieuwa, “frequently draws the ire of governments and influential groups”.

The Israeli government has been critical of international humanitarian agencies like MSF since it launched a war against Hamas in Gaza last year in response to Hamas attacks of October 7, 2023, in Israel, accusing the organizations of providing shelter to anti-Israeli forces.

Alozie recalled that when MSF reported in 2016 that there was a high level of malnutrition in the Northeastern part of Nigeria caused by Boko Haram insurgents that could result in a cataclysmic situation, the Nigerian authorities were not pleased for fear that the report could dent the country’s image.

“However, when a UNICEF detailed report showed the extent of malnutrition”, said Alozieuwa, the government acknowledged the value of the MSF report which was consistent with its policy of speaking out.

Working directly with local leaders, added the MSF adviser, “has enabled the organization to obtain reliable information and knowledge on issues of great importance to the people’s survival.

“Even though you are no longer the Minister of Science and Technology or the Minister of Power”, he continued, “you are a highly influential person in the Southeast and the rest of the country and even well-known globally for your breakthroughs in research in science and engineering, hence our visit to you for support”.

Nnaji thanked MSF for its star role in alleviating human suffering throughout the globe, noting that “it is eminently deserving of the Nobel Prize it won towards the end of the last century”.

The Geometric Power chairman expressed pleasure that the foremost humanitarian organization was conceived in Nigeria during the Civil War when its founder, Bernard Koutchner, who was then working on the International Red Cross staff was disillusioned that he and his colleagues could only attend to individual victims of the war but could not report the humanitarian crisis.

 

The MSF was formed in France in 1971, a year after the Nigerian Civil War ended, by doctors and journalists to bring succor to those in desperate need in conflict areas.

“Interestingly, this critical organization traces its roots to our dear country”, he said, pledging maximum support to it.

Nnaji, the chairman of the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) committee that decides the work to receive the country’s most prestigious annual award for science, compared the MSF humanitarian work to the new NLNG’s decision to reward research with a significant and immediate impact on society.

He stated: “I am delighted that the NLNG Science Prize of $100,000 for 2023 went to Professor Hyppolite Amadi, a Nigerian researcher at Imperial College London for an invention that helps newborn babies with a serious health issue survive.

“The invention costs N700,000 whereas the imported equivalent costs about N6m”.

The former minister disclosed that his wife, Mrs Agatha Nnaji, is leading a nongovernmental organization (NGO) known as Dewdrops to train people to care for the elderly.

The trainees received the London City and Guilds certifications that enable them to work in different countries.

“Taking care of elders with their geriatric challenges requires special skills and emotions that remind us constantly of our solidarity with the human family”, declared Nnaji.

Professor Alozieuwa was accompanied during the visit by Karsten Noko, head of the MSF Mission in Nigeria, who is originally from Zimbabwe; Dr Aissami Abdou from the MSF Operational Centre in Brussels in Belgium who is originally from the Niger Republic; and Dr Ximena Campos Morena, the Deputy MSF Operational Coordinator in Brussels who is originally from Mexico.

 

Each team member expressed delight to be in Nigeria, especially the Eastern part where their organization was conceived.

 

On hand to welcome the MSF guests with Professor Nnaji was the immediate past Commissioner for Information and Public Enlightenment in Anambra State, C. Don Adinuba, who is now the communication consultant to the Geometric Power Group.

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