The Top 10 Underreported Humanitarian Stories of 2006

Wrapped up in the 24-hour news cycle, the big media outlets
often neglect some of the world’s most pressing humanitarian
crises. Coverage of ongoing violence, disease, and malnutrition in
foreign countries often falls prey to celebrity scandals, political
punditry, and lurid crime stories. The independent medical aid
organization Doctors Without Borders makes no claims to
journalistic aspirations, but for the past nine years it has
addressed the media’s informational void with an annual roundup of
underreported humanitarian stories. The group is in a good position
to know the stories going untold. The Nobel Peace Prize-winning
nonprofit has doctors posted in hotspots across the globe, tending
to those most in need. Included below are four of the ten
humanitarian crises the group is calling attention to this year. To
see the full list, visit
Doctors Without Borders.

Violence Rages in Haiti’s Volatile
Capital

The Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince is in a state of emergency;
violence and a lack of medical care plague the country. ‘Haiti…
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,’ says Nicolas de Torrenté, executive director of
Doctors Without Borders. The group’s doctors treated more than
7,000 people for violence-related injuries, including those from
gunshots, stabbings, and sexual violence.

Somalis Trapped by War and Disaster
The military conflict in Somalia between the Islamic Courts and
the Western- and Ethiopian-backed Transitional National Government
has thrust East Africa into the headlines lately, but the realities
of life in the area are seldom covered. The region has swung from a
persistent drought to torrential downpours and floods, leaving a
wake of widespread malnutrition and disease. The life expectancy in
Somalia is estimated to be about 47 years, and more than 25 percent
of people don’t live to see the age of five.

Congolese Endure Extreme Deprivation and
Violence

Although the country recently made strides toward a more
democratic government with its first legitimate elections in
decades, many in the Democratic Republic of Congo continue to live
in horrifying conditions. Violence rages between the Congolese army
and the Mai Mai rebels, displacing tens of thousands of people.
From January to June 2006, Doctors without Borders treated 150
women every month for the effects of sexual violence.

Effective Strategies for Treating Malnutrition Not
Implemented

A major breakthrough came recently in the fight against
malnutrition with the introduction of ready-to-use therapeutic
products (RUTFs). Using these products, which are packed with
nutrients and energy, doctors are now more effectively able to
treat malnourished children. Doctors Without Borders treated
150,000 children in Niger over the past two years with the help of
RUTFs. Yet in spite of their proven efficacy, the products are
seldom used. Acute malnutrition continues to plague more than 60
million children worldwide. — Bennett Gordon

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The Top 10 Underreported Humanitarian Stories of
2006

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