Eyes On The Prizes

An author who helped revive post-war German literature and a group of volunteer doctors are sharing the spotlight Friday as they collect their Nobel prizes.

Doctors Without Borders, known by their French name Medecins Sans Frontieres, accepted the Nobel Peace Prize Friday for a courage and outspokenness that has helped shape the world's humanitarian groups.

Friday's peace prize ceremony, complete with music, speeches and flower decorations, was held in Oslo's City Hall, a world away from rough camps where Doctors Without Borders often serve those suffering in conflicts.

On the day of its honor, the group received word that two of its staff had been kidnapped in war-torn Sierra Leone, a bitter reminder of the dangers its volunteers face.

"Our thoughts go not in the least to those who, at this very moment, are working under the most difficult conditions, often putting their own lives at risk, in scenes of the profoundest suffering and degradation," awards committee chairman Francis Sejersted said.

The group now sends about 2,500 medical professionals a year to work in 80 countries. It intervenes in conflicts without being asked, speaks out on abuses and insists on total independence.

The prize was accepted by Marie-Eve Raguenaud, a 30-year-old French doctor who just returned from two years in Burundi.

She was picked to represent all the volunteers in receiving the award before about 1,000 people, including Norway's King Harald V and Chantal Ndagijimana, a Rwandan woman who lost 40 family members in that nation's 1994 genocide.

Raguenaud smiled broadly, as she displayed the gold medal and diploma to the applauding crowd.

The group plans to use the $945,000 cash award for a new campaign against neglected diseases, saying the world's poor cannot afford or find medicines they need.

The group appealed to Russian President Boris Yeltsin to halt Russia's military campaign in breakaway Chechnya.

James Orbinski, President of MSF's international council, said humanitarian assistance was Â"virtually unknownÂ" to the old, sick and infirm Â"who cannot escape Grozny.Â"

Â"I appeal here today to his excellency the ambassador to Russia and through him, to President Yeltsin, to stop the bombing of defenseless civilians in Chechnya,Â" Orbinski said in a Nobel lecture at the peace prize ceremony in Oslo's city hall.

Meanwhile, Guenter Grass, was being honored in Stockholm's Konserthuset hall as an author who wouldn't let Germany forget about its Nazi past.

Grass, who made his literary reputation with the novel trilogy that included the The Tin Drum, Cat and Mouse and Dog Years, published between 1959 and 1963, spent much of the week leading up to the ceremony reminding people about more current problems.

During the traditional lecture by the literature prize winner, Grass spoke out against poverty, saying he was Â"remided how few prizes have been awarded to projects that would rid the world of the scourge of mankind: hunger.Â"

He also has said he would use his $960,000 prize to fight discrimination against Roma, also known as gypsies.

Grass and the winners of the economics, chemistry, medicine and physics prizes receive their awards in an afternoon ceremony at the blue concert hall in downtown Stockholm, then attend a banquet in the castle-like city hall.

The awards are given every year on Dec. 10, the anniversary of the death of Alfred Nobel, the Swedish industrialist and inventor of dynamite who created the prizes.

Canadian economist Robert A. Mundell of Columbia University, whose theories helped create a common currency for the European Union, will collect the economics prize, the only one not established in Nobel's will.

The medicine prize goes to Dr. Guenter Blobel, 63, a German native and U.S. citizen, who discovered how proteins find their rightful places in cells.

Gerardus 't Hooft and Martinus J.G. Veltman, both of the Netherlands, share the physics prize for developing more precise calculations used to predict and confirm the existence of subatomic particles.

Ahmed Zewail, an Egyptian-American, won the chemistry prize for pioneering the use of rapid-fire laser flashes that illuminate the motion of atoms in a molecule.

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