PARIS • Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), whose Kunduz hospital in Afghanistan was hit in a suspected US air strike last Saturday, is one of the largest medical charities in the world, counting more than 36,000 volunteers working in 60 countries.
MSF, also known as Doctors Without Borders, was founded on Dec 21, 1971, when a team of French medics and journalists, including humanitarian icon Bernard Kouchner, denounced what they described as a genocide in secessionist Biafra, in Nigeria.
The Switzerland-based charity provides emergency medical care in war zones, during epidemics and in the wake of natural disasters, and is a self-governed group of 24 associations worldwide.
Its stated commitment to caring for patients regardless of race, religion or political affiliation and reputation for working in the toughest of conditions saw it awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1999.
Last year, the charity oversaw 384 projects worldwide, 31 per cent of which were linked to armed conflict. It also treated more than half a million patients across 63 countries, including 2,200 suffering from the Ebola virus.
MSF is funded overwhelmingly by a network of 5.7 million private donors, who provided 89 per cent of its US$1.44 billion (S$2.1 billion) budget last year.