Dec. 21, 2008
LONDON — Aid organizations found it harder to operate in 2008 and help some of the world’s most vulnerable people than in previous years because of increased security risks and more hazardous environments, a leading medical NGO said on Sunday.
In its annual list of “top 10″ humanitarian crises, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) said many of the countries on this year’s list – including Somalia, Pakistan, Sudan and Iraq – illustrated the growing difficulties aid groups faced.
“In some of these places, it is extremely difficult for aid groups to access populations requiring help,” MSF [Doctors Without Borders] International Council President Christophe Fournier said. …
Intensified violence in Somalia, including direct attacks and threats on aid workers, meant MSF had to curtail some of its operations in 2008 and withdraw its international staff, the report said.
In northwest Pakistan, hundreds of thousands of people fled air attacks and bombings from a counter-insurgency campaign earlier in the year. After aid workers in the country were threatened, attacked and kidnapped, MSF restricted the number of international staff working on its projects. …
“With the release of this list, we hope to focus much needed attention on the millions of people who are trapped in conflict and war, affected by medical crises, whose immediate and essential health needs are neglected, and whose plight often goes unnoticed.”
MSF said governments were also to blame for a worsening situation for aid workers in the field, which was leading to hundreds of thousands of people dying needlessly.
In Myanmar [Burma] and Zimbabwe, where governments failed to make health care a priority or viewed NGO involvement with suspicion, humanitarian organizations were either limited in the type of assistance they could provide or were left to deal with health crises alone. The complete MSF list (with key facts from MSF and AlertNet briefings):
1. Somalia’s humanitarian catastrophe worsens
2. Myanmar: despite attention brought on by cyclone, medical needs go ignored
3. Civilians trapped as war rages in eastern Congo
4. Health crisis sweeps Zimbabwe as violence and economic collapse spread
5. Millions of malnourished children left untreated despite advances in lifesaving therapies
6. Civilians denied assistance in Ethiopia’s Somali Region
7. Civilians killed and forced to flee as fighting intensifies in northwestern Pakistan
8. No end in sight to conflicts in Sudan
9. Iraqi civilians in urgent need of assistance
10. HIV/TB co-infection: A health battle on two fronts
Original report: MSF 11th Annual “Top Ten” List
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