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


Climate Change Clash in Africa

December 27, 2006

This is an intriguing article linking conflict, the arms trade, poverty, disease and climate change all into one. Think this is far-fetched? Welcome to the real world, where everything is interconnected. The title, “Climate Change Clash in Africa” is not just change in the environment:

It’s been a bloody first half of the dry season in Uganda’s Karamoja region. October to February is the time when grass turns brittle, mud dries and cracks, and competition for scarce resources increases. More than 40 people have died in recent weeks in fighting between Karimojong warriors and the Ugandan Army in the arid northeast of the country.

The semi-nomadic Karimojong are pastoralists who protect their cows, violently if necessary. The warriors are well-armed, and this has put them on a collision course with Uganda’s government. But the recent clashes are a symptom of more universal problems.

As elsewhere in Africa, the population in eastern Uganda continues to grow as the environment deteriorates, putting more and more pressure on a land that grows ever drier. At a United Nations conference on climate change held in neighboring Kenya last month, environmentalists warned that Africa would bear the brunt of global warming.

With more people forced to share fewer resources, experts warn that conflict will increase. “Climate change will hit pastoral communities very hard,” says Grace Akumu, executive director of environmental pressure group Climate Network Africa. “The conflict is already getting out of hand and we are going to see an increase in this insecurity.”