Jump to content

Claire Bertschinger - The Nurse Who Inspired Live Aid


Specializes in Gerontological, cardiac, med-surg, peds. Has 16 years experience.

By Jane Elliott

BBC News health reporter

Scenes of starving children, who were within days or hours of death, were beamed round the world in 1984.

One of the most enduring images in Michael Buerk's BBC report from Ethiopia was of a young British nurse, surrounded by 85,000 starving people.

Claire Bertschinger had the daily task of deciding which children would be allowed into the feeding station and which were too sick to be saved.

Singer Bob Geldof said the young nurse had been his inspiration for the original Band Aid single and Live Aid.


"In her was vested the power of life and death," said Geldof at the time, "She had become God-like and that is unbearable for anyone."

In fact the events of 1984 and 1985 left Claire so traumatised that for two decades she was unable to speak to anyone about what she had seen.

Claire, a nurse for the International Committee of the Red Cross, carried on her work in the feeding centre in Mekele, in Tigrey, and shut herself off from media reports, oblivious to the fact that she was the catalyst for so much fundraising.


Related link:


I'm hoping her book will be released here soon.


Specializes in Education, FP, LNC, Forensics, ED, OB. Has 30 years experience.

She, too, was traumatized by her work. I was touched by the story about the child who required blood transfusion........

And, it is so true, "Nurses as usually the healthcare professionals who are most likely to be present for patients' deaths....".

This topic is now closed to further replies.