Volunteer doctors risk bombs to aid Iraq's wounded
By Jeordan Legon
(CNN) -- With bombs falling around them, Doctors Without Borders refused to leave Iraq -- continuing to work in a Baghdad hospital treating the torrent of sick and wounded despite the dangers of war.
It wasn't long before two members of the Medecins Sans Frontieres -- as the group is known internationally -- were carted away to the regime's most notorious prisons by the Iraqi secret police, accused of being spies.
"The way that they presented it, [it is] as if they don't believe humanitarian work at all," said Ibrahim Younis, 31, an aid worker taken from his hotel April 2 along with Francois Calas, 44, head of the doctors' Baghdad mission.
Calas and Younis were held in a vast jail and two crowded prisons before being freed April 11. The two men and four volunteer doctors who worked at al Kindi hospital in northeast Baghdad resumed their healing work a short time later.
"I'm still here and I'm ready to go on working," Calas told CNN from Baghdad. "We see today more and more needs emerging and ... we're still here and we are ready to do our humanitarian work."
Founded in 1971, Doctors Without Borders dispatches 2,500 medical professionals around the world each year to aid victims of armed conflict, natural disasters and epidemics.
Its volunteers have been kidnapped in Chechnya, died in Honduras and worked with victims of Rwanda's civil war.
Although it received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1999, the group shies away from the media spotlight.
"This group plunges its doctors and nurses into some of the most dire physical danger in the world," wrote the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette in an editorial after the doctors won the Nobel Prize.
"With humane hearts and a will to make a difference, the organization has sometimes wrought miracles."
Note: In every war there are acts of extraordinary courage where an individual, military or civilian, goes beyond what is expected to avert conflict, save lives or otherwise achieve an extraordinary mission. This special section highlights the acts of a few individuals who -- through feats of courage, nobility of purpose or life-risking situations -- have become "Heroes of War."