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Dec 21st, 2008

MSF ‘Top 10’ Crises Highlight Risks for Aid Workers

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

  • More than 3.2 million need humanitarian aid
  • More than 1.1 million displaced
  • Infrastructure in tatters and little law and order

» Somalia anarchy: AlertNet briefing

2.  Myanmar: despite attention brought on by cyclone, medical needs go ignored

  • Over 2 million affected
  • Damage estimated at $4 billion
  • U.N. appeal underfunded

» Myanmar cyclone: AlertNet briefing

3.  Civilians trapped as war rages in eastern Congo

  • 5.4 million dead since 1998 from war-related violence, hunger and disease
  • Congo is the size of western Europe
  • At least 40,000 women and girls have been raped

» Congo conflict: AlertNet briefing

4.  Health crisis sweeps Zimbabwe as violence and economic collapse spread

  • Female life expectancy 43 years
  • Agriculture devastated
  • World’s highest inflation

» Zimbabwe crisis: AlertNet briefing

5.  Millions of malnourished children left untreated despite advances in lifesaving therapies

  • Enough food is produced globally to feed the planet but even so roughly 923 million people go to bed hungry every night
  • Hunger is a leading cause of death, killing an estimated 9 million people every year — more than AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria combined
  • A child dies of hunger every five seconds (UN World Food Program)

» Food and hunger: AlertNet topic

6.  Civilians denied assistance in Ethiopia’s Somali Region

  • Ethiopia cracks down on rebels after deadly attack on Chinese oil installation
  • Troops accused of burning homes, displacing thousands
  • Ethiopia accuses rival Eritrea of backing rebels it calls terrorists

» Ethiopia unrest: AlertNet briefing

7.  Civilians killed and forced to flee as fighting intensifies in northwestern Pakistan

  • Regions of Pakistan that border Afghanistan are plagued by violence between militants and government security forces
  • Some militant violence has spilled into other parts of the country
  • The recent political crisis has seen an increase in suicide attacks on troops and other targets

» Pakistan violence: AlertNet briefing

8.  No end in sight to conflicts in Sudan

  • At least 300,000 have died and 2.9 million been displaced by fighting since 2003 in Darfur in the west
  • Tensions in eastern Sudan where insurgents have threatened to challenge the government for a share of the country’s power and natural resources
  • Life expectancy at birth is 57.4 years

» Sudan conflicts: AlertNet briefing

9.  Iraqi civilians in urgent need of assistance

  • Millions displaced by violence
  • Basic services devastated by sanctions and war
  • Few international aid workers left

» Iraq turmoil: AlertNet briefing

10. HIV/TB co-infection: A health battle on two fronts

  • Most HIV-positive people don’t know they’re infected
  • Women make up nearly 60 percent of new infections in sub-Saharan Africa
  • Anti-retroviral drugs reach only 31 percent of those who need them

» AIDS pandemic: AlertNet briefing


Original report: MSF 11th Annual “Top Ten” List

2 Responses to “Top 10 Humanitarian Crises in 2008”
  1. Immelman for Congress » Blog Archive » Jacob Wetterling Freedom Walk Says:

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