Top 10 Most Underreported Humanitarian Stories of 2006

January 11, 2007

Severe malnutrition still a problem

This great report comes from Doctors Without Borders, also known as Medicins Sans Frontieres, one of the best humanitarian organizations around, and winners of the 1999 Nobel Peace Prize as well.

According to the press release of the article:

New York — The staggering human toll taken by tuberculosis and malnutrition as well as the devastation caused by wars in the Central African Republic (CAR), Sri Lanka, and Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), are among the “Top Ten” Most Underreported Humanitarian Stories of 2006, according to the year-end list released today by the international humanitarian medical aid organization Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF).

The ninth annual list also highlights the lack of media attention paid to the plight of people affected by the consequences of conflict in Haiti, Somalia, Colombia, Chechnya, and central India.

“Many conflicts worldwide are profoundly affecting millions of people, yet they are almost completely invisible,” said MSF Executive Director Nicolas de Torrenté. “Haiti, for example, is just 500 miles from the United States and the plight of the population enduring relentless violence in its volatile capital Port-au-Prince received only half a minute of network coverage in an entire year.”

According to Andrew Tyndall, publisher of the online media-tracking journal The Tyndall Report, the 10 countries and contexts highlighted by MSF accounted for just 7.2 minutes of the 14,512 minutes on the three major U.S. television networks’ nightly newscasts for 2006. Treating malnutrition, tuberculosis, and Chechnya were mentioned, but only briefly in other stories. Five of the countries highlighted by MSF were never mentioned at all.

These issues were given all of 7 minutes of airtime – how noble of the mainstream media, which prefers spending its time say, badgering a Senator over a poorly executed joke.

In no particular order, here is the top ten. You can read the entire report here by the way, but the links below correspond to the specific sections of the report. You can read the whole thing, or just what interests you.

Somalia – Somalis Trapped by War and Disaster
Central African Republic – Fleeing Violence in the Central African Republic (CAR)
Tuberculosis – Increasing Human Toll Taken by Tuberculosis
Chechnya – Consequences of Bitter Conflict in Chechnya
Sri Lanka – Civilians Under Fire in Sri Lanka While Assistance is Limited
Malnutrition – Effective Strategies for Treating Malnutrition Not Implemented
Democratic Republic of Congo – Congolese Endure Extreme Deprivation and Violence
Colombia – Living in Fear in Colombia
Haiti – Violence Rages in Haiti’s Volatile Capital
Central India – Clashes in Central India

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Sudan, Darfur rebels agree 60-day ceasefire

January 11, 2007

Good news, but don’t get your hopes up:

KHARTOUM (Reuters) – Sudan’s government and Darfur rebels have agreed to a 60-day ceasefire and a peace summit sponsored by the African Union and the United Nations as steps toward stopping the violence in west Sudan, a visiting U.S. official said on Wednesday.

Sudan has also agreed to let foreign journalists visit Darfur after a two-month ban and to remove a requirement for exit visas for aid workers, one of the biggest bureaucratic obstacles to the world’s largest aid operation in Darfur.

By the way, it isn’t George W. Bush or Condi Rice that gets the credit for this – it is none other than U.S. New Mexico governor Bill Richardson:

Richardson said rebel commanders he had met in Darfur had also agreed to the ceasefire, which would begin on a date to be set by the United Nations and the African Union, which are jointly mediating Darfur peace efforts.

A joint statement by the Sudanese government and Richardson also said Sudan would not use military aircraft painted in white colors, usually reserved for humanitarians, and that Darfur rebel commanders could safely call a conference in the field monitored by the United Nations and the AU.

See, that wasn’t that hard. Just acknowledge the problem, go there and talk about it. Just like we wish had happened in Iraq.


Darfur in Crisis, Still

December 28, 2006

I think it was Senator Russ Feingold that mentioned on Meet the Press that the while the U.S. pours billions into Iraq, Somalia receives around 1-2 million dollars a year in foreign aid. You just can’t ignore other crisis in the world while hoping that they go away. Darfur really, REALLY, needs a U.S. intervention:

Almost four years after conflict broke out in Darfur, calls are being made for greater efforts to resolve the predicament in this western region of Sudan.

During an event marking International Human Rights Day Dec. 8, outgoing United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan reiterated that the world can, and must intensify the drive to address violence in Darfur.

Renewed fighting has been taking place in the region over the past two months, and aid agencies warn that this is causing thousands of civilians to flee into mountainous areas where they are cut off from assistance. Sudan’s government has clashed with a coalition of rebels that failed to sign the Darfur Peace Agreement in May 2006 in the Nigerian capital, Abuja — the National Redemption Front.

Why does the world continue to ignore Darfur? The whole world has plenty of evidence of a genocide in Darfur, yet where are they? In Iraq. Talk about priorities. To put some of this in context, Osama bin Laden was LIVED and OPERATED in Somalia for years before 9/11.


Sudan’s “Lost Girls” still struggle in the U.S.

December 27, 2006

Sudan’s “Lost Girls” in the U.S. are overcoming their shyness and beginning to talk about the horrors they survived, problems adjusting to U.S. life and their worries about the women still in Sudan:

Veronica Abbas

At 24, Abbas has lived long enough to witness the greater part of the violent clashes in Sudan. She is a “Lost Girl” of Sudan–a genocide survivor–and was a part of the first group of female refugees granted U.S. asylum in 1999.

Her sad assessment of other Lost Girls was echoed in a 2003 congressional report by the Office of Refugee Resettlement, which found the young women’s young male refugee counterparts–who outnumber them roughly by 38 to 1–faring much better. Sudanese “Lost Boys” were making substantial strides in achieving independence, the report found, with employment rates 18 percent higher than among male U.S. counterparts. Lost Girls, by contrast, lag U.S. female counterparts by 25 percent.

Go read the rest, it is a worthwhile read.