MSF Accused by Staff of Upholding White Supremacy, Colonialism
- July, 11, 2020 - 14:46
- World news
TEHRAN (Tasnim) – The medical NGO Medecins Sans Frontieres has been accused of propping up white supremacy and colonialism, according to an internal statement signed by at least 1,000 current and former employees of the organization.
The statement accused MSF of failing to recognize the racism it perpetuated by its policies and how its workplace culture contributed towards propping up the "privileged white majority" within the organization.
The statement called for an independent investigation into racism within the organization and calls to address "decades of power and paternalism".
Prominent signatories of the statement include Agnes Musonda, president of the board in southern Africa, Florian Westphal, managing director of MSF Germany, and Javid Abdelmoneim, chair of the board at MSF UK.
Former MSF aid worker Shaista Aziz described the statement as a "moment of reckoning that is massively overdue".
Speaking to the Guardian, Aziz said, "Change requires brave and bold leadership and it requires a lot of 'do-gooding' white people with power to get out of the way".
This statement came after intense internal debate within the organization following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis and the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement.
Staff within the organization were particularly concerned by a statement released by MSF Italy which suggested it should not use the term "racism" and that everyone should discuss "all lives matter".
MSF is one of the world's largest humanitarian organizations, providing medical services to people in poor countries and conflict zones across the world. Its staff work in some of the most dangerous and difficult conditions in the world, and aid people in conflict-afflicted countries.
Despite 90 percent of its staff being hired locally, most of its operations are run by European senior managers from one of its five operation centers in western Europe, with only one center, opened last year in Senegal, run from the global South.