An open letter to the President


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This is the beginning portion of the letter from the Executive Director of Doctors Without Borders, Avril Benoît. I'm limited by word count, but you can read the full letter on their website at: Dear President Biden, I am writing to you on behalf of Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), our staff, and our patients to urgently request that the United States call for an immediate and sustained ceasefire in Gaza. MSF has delivered medical aid in many high-intensity conflicts over more than 50 years, yet rarely have we encountered such a catastrophic combination of escalating humanitarian and medical needs, ravaged infrastructure, and intentionally limited humanitarian access. We urge you to use your influence to secure an end to the widespread and indiscriminate attacks against civilians, forced displacement, and siege of Gaza. Vital humanitarian aid must be allowed to enter the Gaza Strip at scale. My colleagues and I, like so many people around the world, were horrified by the attacks on civilians in Israel by Hamas militants on October 7. We are horrified by the ongoing attacks on civilians in Gaza by the Israeli military. The way Israel is prosecuting this war is causing massive death and suffering among Palestinian civilians and is inconsistent with international norms and laws. Even war has rules. Under these rules, civilians must be protected from violence and have the right to access humanitarian assistance, especially medical care. The medics who provide this care must be protected from the violence of combat, and the places they work are afforded special protected status. Your administration’s stated commitments to international law appear to falter when faced with attacks on civilians in Palestine. Humanitarians have not been spared from the disproportionate violence of this conflict. Four of our colleagues have been killed and many more injured, the ambulances and health care facilities in which we work have been attacked, and our clearly marked humanitarian vehicles have been destroyed. We have done everything we can to notify parties to the conflict of our locations and activities. The killing of humanitarian workers and the destruction of humanitarian spaces and property may constitute war crimes. As a medical humanitarian organization, our mandate is to save lives and alleviate suffering. We are specialized in delivering aid in complex settings, but it is impossible for us to operate at scale in Gaza. The level of humanitarian need is beyond the capacity of humanitarian actors to address because we, along with the entire civilian population, are intentionally blocked by Israel from accessing food, water, electricity, and the medical supplies we need to care for our patients.

▶ Created on December 6, 2023 by Sarah

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