Skip to main content

Dr Christos Christou

Médecins Sans Frontières International President
The state of humanitarianism today

Tuesday, 28 May 2024

The National Press Club of Australia

Dr Christos Christou, Médecins Sans Frontières International President, will Address the National Press Club of Australia on "The state of humanitarianism today".

Dr Christos Christou, Médecins Sans Frontières International President, will address the National Press Club of Australia on "The state of humanitarianism today".

Attacks on hospitals, civilians, healthcare staff and aid workers, combined with restrictions on humanitarian assistance, are a tragic hallmark of many current conflicts. MSF teams are increasingly seeing states and warring parties flagrantly disregard the laws of war, with little to no accountability, further reducing the already limited space for humanitarian response.

Over his five-year tenure, Dr Christou has seen the disregard for International Humanitarian Law in contexts like Gaza and Ukraine. He has also witnessed the criminalisation of refugees, asylum seekers and those trying to help them in the Central Mediterranean.

Last month, Dr Christou visited Sudan and Chad where one of the worst crises the world has seen for decades is unfolding. Civil conflict has compounded extreme levels of suffering across the country, with needs growing by the day. The humanitarian response is deeply inadequate with assistance systematically blocked by the authorities. Before the start of the war, there were dozens of international organisations responding across the country. Now, there are almost none. For a crisis of this scale, this is unfathomable, unacceptable, and it cannot be allowed to continue. There is no doubt that there are enormous challenges in Sudan, but they are not insurmountable.

In Gaza, where MSF has been working for over 20 years the healthcare system has been completely decimated. Since the beginning of the war, nearly 200 humanitarian workers have been killed, including an Australian aid worker and five MSF staff. Many of these humanitarians were killed while providing care for patients or sheltering with their families.

The number of aid workers killed in Gaza is extraordinary but is only a fraction of the total number of people killed so far: now, nearly 35,000 men, women and children. Israel is ignoring the UNSC resolution for a ceasefire. This is about impunity, a total disregard for the laws of war, and now it must become about accountability. Beyond words, Australia must take immediate concrete actions to hold Israel to account.

Dr Christos Christou – Bio

Born in Trikala, a small town in central Greece, Dr Christos Christou graduated from Aristotle University’s medical school in Thessaloniki, Greece, and holds a PhD in surgery from the Kapodestrian University of Athens. He also holds a master's degree in international health with a focus in health crisis management from the University of Athens and is a member of its faculty.

Dr Christou specialized in general and emergency surgery in the Surgical and Transplant Unit of Evangelismos Hospital in Athens. In 2013, he moved to London, where he was a senior clinical fellow in colorectal surgery at King’s College Hospital. In 2018, he became consultant of colorectal and emergency surgery at North Middlesex University Hospital. The same year he was awarded a fellowship from the European Board of Surgery in Coloproctology.

Dr Christou joined MSF in 2002 and has since held several roles. His first assignment was in Greece as a field doctor, working with migrants and refugees. He then worked as a doctor in an HIV/AIDS project in Zambia in 2004 and 2005. After a break from international work, during which he trained as a surgeon, Dr. Christou re-joined MSF in 2013 for assignments in a number of conflict zones and insecure contexts, including South Sudan, Iraq, and, most recently, Cameroon, as an emergency and trauma surgeon. Since 2005 he has served as general secretary, vice-president, and finally president of MSF Greece's Board of Directors. He was elected MSF's international president in June 2019.

Have a speaker in mind?

Propose A Speaker

Renew your membership

With your support The National Press Club of Australia continues to be the prestigious, influential institution it is today. 

Renew now