Top 10 Underreported Humanitarian Stories of 2006
Once a year the international medical aid organization Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontiers (MSF) releases a list of ten stories that received little media attention despite the fact that they concern some of the most urgent humanitarian issues and crises in the world. This year's list, their ninth, focuses in part on the devastating consequences of war and political unrest on civilian populations. It also lists malnutrition and tuberculosis, both of which kill millions every year.
- Somalia: Years of violent internal conflict have led to a catastrophic health crisis for Somalia’s people. Malnutrition, kala azar (a parasitic disease) and tuberculosis are major issues, and life expectancy is estimated to be only 47 years.
- Central African Republic: Fighting between government forces and various rebel groups has led to the displacement of over 100,000 civilians, many of whom have taken refuge in forests. Forced to subsist without adequate food, water, or shelter, many of the refugees suffer from malaria, worm infestation, and acute respiratory infections.
- Tuberculosis: Every year nearly 2 million people die from TB, and an estimated 9 million develop it. To make matters worse, some strains of the disease have been found to be resistant to the drugs designed to fight them.
- Chechnya: After 12 years of conflict, thousands of Chechnyans, left homeless, have been forced to settle in temporary accommodation centers where violence, abductions, and abuses are common.
- Sri Lanka: Fighting between government forces and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam has led to the displacement of thousands of civilians, and put them at serious risk of violence. In addition, restrictions placed on humanitarian organizations have made it difficult for people to get the help they need.
- Malnutrition: More than 60 million children in the world have signs of acute malnutrition and are at serious risk of death. Though new strategies and products could be implemented to help treat these children, a focus on long-term development issues has diverted attention away from immediate aid.
- Democratic Republic of Congo: Brutal violence between various armed groups, including the national army, has devastated the civilian population. Driven from their land, many live without adequate food or water, and face serious risks of sexual violence, as well as meningitis, malaria, cholera, and measles.
- Columbia: Though there are some signs of improvement, violent conflict, largely fueled by the narcotics trade, is still a part of everyday life for civilians. Almost three million people have been forced to abandon their homes, and many suffer from poverty, disease, and mental disorders.
- Port-au-Prince, Haiti: Ongoing urban conflict between various armed groups has made Haiti’s capital, Port-au-Prince, very unsafe for civilians. Thousands have been the victims of shootings, stabbings, and sexual violence.
- Central India: Clashes between Maoist insurgents, Indian security forces and anti-Maoist militias in the central state of Chhattisgarh have displaced more than 50,000 civilians, many of whom have lost access to adequate food and health care
Source: MSF, 2007