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Could I have the dead stop?

There are people on the negotiating skills of thousands of lives hang. Liesbeth Aelbrecht is so someone. The responsibility that it carries, is sometimes a heavy burden. She rubs both hands across the narrow face. "Could I have prevented this? This is a very personal question." Even today, she is agonising over a bet five years ago, about what went wrong and why. How many people have lost their lives, and whether you can save them. "I think back, I feel myself as a loser."

Liesbeth Aelbrecht is the Swiss Director of the aid organization Doctors without borders, also known by the French name, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF). She is 48 years old, an accessible woman with an open face and a deep voice. Her office at the headquarters in Geneva, is unimpressive. A work cell in a four-storey house, with expedient cheap furniture and assigned span carpets is fitted. In the Soussol, there is a library and an old coffee machines. Only 9 percent of donations are used for Administration and Fundraising, the rest of the money goes directly to the projects. It is obvious: On the Rue de Lausanne 78 is not Packed.

From 2014 to 2016, Liesbeth Aelbrecht headed the operations in Burma, and ensured that the medical staff had access to the Camps of the displaced minority, the Rohingya. "No clean water, hardly any food, zero sanitation. We asked ourselves often, as the people under these circumstances at all can survive."

"How can you stay neutral?": Liesbeth Aelbrecht (middle rear) with MSF staff in January of 2019 in Cameroon. Photo: Laurence Hoenig

Aelbrecht drink Cola, you didn't swallow a pain reliever, so that the cold viruses are preventing you from working. Actually, you should feel recovered, finally, she has just returned from the holiday. A few carefree days in a hotel swimming pool in Liberia, with their eleven-year-old adoptive daughter and her life partner, the West African country as a nurse works. "It was very relaxed, because I had hardly any Internet reception. Nevertheless, you can turn off in a job like that."

born in Belgium, she studied Economics, and in the case of a reinsurance worked. But then she began to distrust capitalism, and rolled up her comfortable life. For the past 21 years, she is in MSF, was stationed in the most crisis regions of the world, in Bosnia, Somalia and in South Sudan, in Burma, Honduras, Guatemala, and Kenya.

How can a man hold so much misery? "Between all of the suffering there is endless joy." It tells the story of a Somali hospital, directly on the beach, close friendships with local people. "Shocked" was it after your arrival in Switzerland. She lives here now for almost two years, and wonders about the high demands of the people themselves, and the strict work ethic, which not uncommonly ends in personal crises.

The core business of the MSF emergency relief to assist you for almost fifty years.

Burma was in all the years you have been the most difficult. MSF have not spoken publicly about the Situation of the Rohingya, says Aelbrecht. In February 2014, MSF responded to questions of journalists for medical treatment of wounded civilians. "The wars." She plays nervously with her long hair. From this Moment on, the international community knew that the Rohingya were persecuted and systematically killed.

"The government of Burma has instructed us on various projects in the country to cease immediately." They had to leave behind tens of thousands of people in remote villages or in IDP camps without medical assistance. For many it meant death. Can you remain silent when you witness a crime? Can discretion save lives? These questions are Aelbrecht and your organization up to today.

The core business of the MSF emergency relief to assist you for almost fifty years. After the Tsunami in 2004, the conservation of the donations in the amount, then again in 2010 after the earthquake in Haiti. The organization grew rapidly, the helpers were celebrated as heroes. Lately, however, more critical voices became loud. Especially in the Wake of the rescue operations on the Mediterranean sea. The rescue ships are refugee taxis, would have a knock-on effect would always attract more migrants, the traffickers in the hands of play.

From this Camp in Rakhine state, Burma, were thrown to the MSF-helper by the government out of it. Photo: Laurence Hoenig

"We are at the beginning of a new Era," says Aelbrecht. Humanitarian operations would, in principle, questioned, by politicians but also by a wider Public. "Sometimes you make us the scapegoat, and abused us for political campaigns, trying to manipulate us, and forbids us access to crisis regions." It's getting harder and harder to protect their own people. A red cross on a roof used to be a sign, it is today a target. "Lately, we have to ask ourselves, Is respected medical help at all? When Western coalitions to bomb in Syria's hospitals, who are the guardians of the humanitarian laws are, then?"

After the MSF from one day had been thrown on the other from the displaced camps in Rakhine state in Burma, out, sought Aelbrecht the conversation with the transitional government. She wrote about twenty letters in which they asked for a Meeting, and was able to finally talk with high delegates. "If I would have tried in the negotiations of this or that. I would have..." she breaks off, takes another swig from the Cola bottle. "They said actually never, no. The Southeast Asian culture." The discussions were resinous, access to the Camps remained for MSF closed.

months later, they were allowed back in, then out, it was called. Until today. Maybe, Aelbrecht, mutmasst you should have the authorities an Ultimatum. "We could threaten to do so, that we need to pull us out of the country?", she wonders in hindsight. She shakes her head, and is himself the answer. If you've learned anything in the past two decades, it's this: "In war it is always about Power."

"If the suffering of not more touches, I need to stop."Go to Liesbeth Aelbrecht

There, where the greatest Need is, so the principle of MSF is as follows. In fact, however, the organization needs to do and sometimes sacrifices, in order to get access to the most needy. Such a sick station building, the need it is mandatory and covers only a dozen people a day, in order to get access to the IDP camps with Thousands of patients.

What distinguishes MSF from many other aid organizations, is the self-critical attitude. Decisions are questioned, the failures of public debate. There are whole books about it, in which the organization does its own work under the microscope. Probably she enjoys in Switzerland, therefore, such a high level of credibility. Per capita a country donates a little more money to MSF than Switzerland.

do you know the ethical conflict, the need to endure each of the helpers: Liesbeth Aelbrecht (middle). Photo: Laurence Hoenig

Help is complicated. MSF has written to the Flag, to be neutral. But they preserved this principle Dilemmas. In South Sudan, Aelbrecht asked: "Release, we, the government of their responsibility for the health care system?" And "we will Extend our use of the war? Because we save people, so that they can continue to fight?" MSF treated everyone, regardless of his origin or Religion, well armed fighters. It is an ethical conflict, the need to endure each of the helper and the individual times to the brink of despair.

In her role as Director-General she has to be neutral, emphasizes Aelbrecht. But you personally have a Problem with that. "There's a war on, the food are just around the corner, but you will not be intentionally distributed in order for people to starve to death. How can you stay neutral?" In such situations, she is angry at the offender. These negative emotions give her but also the energy to keep going. "If the suffering of not more touches, I need to stop."


Created: 01.05.2019, 19:22 PM

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