Sunday, December 23, 2007

Doctors without Borders reports 10 most underreported humanitarian crises of 2007

The top ten most underreported humanitarian crises worldwide are, according to Doctors without Borders (MSF), "Displaced Fleeing War in Somalia Face Humanitarian Crisis; Political and Economic Turmoil Sparks Health-Care Crisis in Zimbabwe; Drug-Resistant Tuberculosis Spreads As New Drugs Go Untested; Expanded Use of Nutrient Dense Ready-to-Use Foods Crucial for Reducing Childhood Malnutrition; Civilians Increasingly Under Fire in Sri Lankan Conflict; Conditions Worsen in Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo; Living Precariously in Colombia’s Conflict Zones; Humanitarian Aid Restricted in Myanmar; Civilians Caught Between Armed Groups in Central African Republic; As Chechen Conflict Ebbs, Critical Humanitarian Needs Still Remain".

The official press release goes on to explain that "The DRC and Colombia, both wracked by ongoing civil conflict and massive internal displacement of civilians, have dominated the list over the past decade, each appearing a total of nine times. The humanitarian consequence of war in Chechnya has appeared eight times. Somalia has appeared seven times, most recently because renewed fighting centered in Mogadishu in 2007 has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee their homes, only to endure disease and extremely precarious living conditions.

According to Andrew Tyndall, publisher of the online media-tracking journal, “The Tyndall Report,” the countries and contexts highlighted by MSF on this year’s list accounted for just 18 minutes of coverage on the three major U.S. television networks’ nightly newscasts from January through November 2007. This figure does not include coverage of Myanmar or tuberculosis; both generated significant media attention, but very little of it focused on the medical humanitarian aspects of either context. Chechnya, Sri Lanka, and CAR—where many villages were burned to the ground in fighting between government forces and rebels and tens of thousands of people fled into inhospitable forests seeking safety—were never mentioned."

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