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November 19, 1997

Humanitarianism Survives, Despite Being Under the Gun

Author Affiliations

Washington, DC

JAMA. 1997;278(19):1569. doi:10.1001/jama.1997.03550190033029

To the Editor.  —I read the article by Drs Sharp and Shenson1 with great interest. As a journalist I have visited many trouble spots and war zones, often traveling with relief workers and volunteer physicians. Journalists, as well as humanitarian workers, have frequently been harassed, jailed, and even killed trying to tell stories of refugees, displaced persons, and other victims—dead or alive—of armed conflicts around the world.2 Those incidents, too, have many times been met with a deafening silence on the part of Western governments. Throughout my journalistic career, I have been deeply impressed by the work of relief agencies, such as Doctors of the World, and touched by the dedication and enthusiasm of the medical personnel despite the great risk to their lives. It was during one of my assignments—to Bosnia in the winter of 1994—that I was inspired by some volunteer physicians in a dingy and