Msf Top 10 'forgotten' Crises
Original article is from Reuters and MSF International:
Tue, 09 Jan 2007 17:02 EST
The staggering toll taken by tuberculosis and malnutrition as well as the devastation caused by wars in Central African Republic and Sri Lanka are among the top 10 under-reported humanitarian stories of 2006, according to medical aid agency Médecins Sans Frontières.
The 10 countries and contexts highlighted by MSF accounted for just 7.2 minutes of airtime of the 14,512 minutes on the three major U.S. television networks' nightly newscasts for 2006, as measured by the Tyndall Report, an online media tracking journal.
Below is a run-down of the year's most forgotten crises as judged by MSF. The stats are from MSF and AlertNet's crisis profiles.
1. Central African Republic
More than a year of fighting between government troops and various rebel groups has forced tens of thousands to flee their homes in the northwest. Civilians suspected of supporting one side or the other are targeted or caught in the crossfire. Many villages along the roads have been attacked, looted or burnt.
# An estimated 100,000 civilians have been uprooted, some fleeing to Chad and others into the forests
# Civilians remained cut off from aid for weeks last year when rebels seized control of several cities
# Rates of malaria, worm infestation and acute respiratory infections are high
# Life expectancy is 41
"We are being chased into the bush like animals by the government troops. Our life on Earth has no sense any more."
Martin Deou, from Bowara village in CAR
While many in the West consider tuberculosis (TB) a disease of a bygone era, death rates are increasing worldwide, particularly in developing countries with high HIV prevalence. Last year saw a very worrying development - a survey of 544 TB patients in Kwazulu Natal, South Africa, found 10 percent had developed XDR TB, a strain resistant to both first-line antibiotics as well as to two classes of second-line drugs.
# TB kills nearly 2 million people a year
# An estimated 9 million develop the disease each year
# There are another 450,000 new cases of multi-drug resistant TB every year
# The most commonly used TB test, sputum microscopy, was developed in 1882 and only detects TB in half of cases
# Almost all patients with XDR in the Kwazulu survey survey died
# TB is the number one killer for people with HIV/AIDS
"That TB destroys millions of lives around the world every year shows that the current approach is just not working. The tools we have to treat and diagnose TB are woefully inadequate and outdated, and we're not seeing the necessary urgency to tackle the disease."
Dr Tido von Schoen-Angerer, director of MSF's Campaign for the Access to Essential Medicines
Hundreds of thousands were forced to flee in a decade of conflict in Russia's breakaway republic. Many of those who have returned from camps in neighbouring Ingushetia have lost their homes. The past year has seen an increase in violence in the republics of Ingushetia and Dagestan, but international aid workers, observers and journalists have limited access to the region.
# Around 70,000 civilians esimtated to have died
# War displaced 600,000 Chechens (Source: Migration Policy Institute)
# Violence, abductions, and abuses continue
# Many people living in misery in temporary accommodation centres
# Aid workers often need armed escorts
"The 'anti-terrorist' operation...is in fact now a policy of terror: hostage-taking, torture, kidnapping for political and financial purposes, uncontrolled violence and with impunity guaranteed."
Report compiled by Russia's Memorial rights group and French-based FIDH
4. Sri Lanka
Civilians have borne the brunt of major fighting that resumed in August 2006 between government forces and the Tamil Tigers. Intense bombing in the north and east has uprooted tens of thousands of people. Others are trapped. Seventeen aid workers from Action Contre la Faim were killed in early August.
# Thousands of child soldiers recruited since 2002
# 1 million mines remain from last war
# Hundreds of thousands displaced by conflict and tsunami
# Some people entirely cut off from help because of violence and restrictions on aid groups
"Every government has given promises of finishing the war, but they are only promises and a dream for us. We are suffering."
R. Rasika, a student injured when a suspected Tamil Tiger suicide bomber blew up a bus in the south on Jan. 6
Acute malnutrition is implicated in the preventable deaths of millions of children worldwide every year. Nutritional emergencies are often thought to be connected to conflict and displacement, but acute malnutrition is highly prevalent in politically stable countries wracked by poverty.
# At any given time, more than 60 million young children in the world have signs of acute malnutrition
# They are at serious risk of death unless they receive specialized care
# 200 million Africans are malnourished
# There are 2.9 million hunger related deaths in Africa each year
"I am overwhelmed, consumed with the notion of 400 million hungry children, 18,000 dying every day, knowing that we can do something about it."
Former World Food Programme Director James Morris
6. Democratic Republic of Congo
Some 3.9 million people in this vast country have died from war-related hunger and disease since 1998, according to aid agency International Rescue Committee. Although the war officially ended in 2003, millions still suffer from a lethal combination of disease and hunger caused by conflict and displacement.
# 1,200 die every day
# 40,000 women and girls have been raped
# DRC's mineral rich east remains gripped by violence
# Fighting between the army and Mai Mai rebel forces in 2006 uprooted tens of thousands in the southeast
"There are few places on earth where the gap between humanitarian needs and available resources is as large - or as lethal - as in Congo."
Jan Egeland, former United Nations under-secretary-general for humanitarian affairs
Somalia, which has been riven by anarchy for 15 years, has some of the world's worst health indicators. In mid 2006 Islamists wrested control of Mogadishu from the militias that had preyed on the local population for years, and seized other regions in the south and centre. They were driven out in December by government troops backed by Ethiopian forces. The abysmal day-to-day living conditions faced by Somalis remain largely forgotten.
# It's estimated that more than a quarter of children die before their fifth birthday
# Life expectancy is around 47 years
# Few aid agencies work in Somalia because of the violence
# Severe flooding in 2006 left tens of thousands of families homeless and destroyed their crops
"I am very disturbed by recent reports and information on grave violations being committed against children, including the recruitment of child soldiers by parties to the conflict in Somalia."
Radhika Coomaraswamy, special representative for the U.N. secretary-general for children and armed conflict
More than four decades of conflict have turned Colombia into one of the world's worst humanitarian hotspots. Millions are caught up in the crossfire between soldiers, leftist rebels, cocaine smugglers and far-right paramilitary militias.
# At least 35,000 killed since the start of the 1990s
# About 3 million displaced - second highest rate after Sudan
# Landmine casualties worst in world
# Centre of world cocaine production
# Hundreds of kidnappings a year
"Once conflicts have entered the 'greed' phase, as Colombia's has, they are very difficult to end ... In Colombia as in other resource-based conflicts, wealth and enrichment have become ends in and of themselves."
Cynthia Arnson, director of the Woodrow Wilson Center's Latin American Program in Washington
9. Strife in Haiti
Decades of violence, instability, dictatorship and coups have left Haiti the poorest nation in the Western hemisphere.The country is awash with weapons and kidnapping is rife. In the impoverished slum of Cité Soleil some 200,000 people are effectively cut off from health care services.
# Hundreds killed in political violence
# Four fifths live in poverty
# Highest HIV infection rate in the Americas
# MSF treats thousands of gunshot/stabbing victims a year
"Haiti ... is just 50 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."
MSF U.S. Executive Director Nicolas de Torrente
10. Clashes in Central India
Around 13 of India's 29 states are affected by Maoist violence. The Maoists say they are fighting on behalf of the rural poor and landless and want to build a communist state. Villagers are forcibly recruited by both the Maoists and vigilante groups fighting them. Myriad violent insurgencies have also beset India's northeastern states for decades.
# 25 years of violence has displaced more than 50,000 civilians
# Thousands have lost their livelihoods and have little access to their land
# Some 50,000 people have been killed since India's independence in 1947
# There were an estimated 285,000 displaced people in 2006
"The Maoists have blocked development and now the time has come to finish off the rebels to help millions of tribal people in our state."
Brijmohan Agarwal, a senior minister in central Chhattisgarh state