Top 10 Humanitarian Crises

Submitted by jcravens42 on January 3, 2009 - 3:08pm.

(are any of you working in these geographic areas? if so, please share even a bit about your experiences here on the AWN forum)

"Top Ten" Humanitarian Crises Reveal Growing Insecurity, Neglected Health Needs

Massive forced civilian displacements, violence, and unmet medical needs in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Somalia, Iraq, Sudan, and Pakistan, along with neglected medical emergencies in Myanmar and Zimbabwe, are some of the worst humanitarian and medical emergencies in the world, the international medical humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) reported in its annual list of the Top 10 humanitarian crises.

The report underscores major difficulties in bringing assistance to people affected by conflict. The lack of global attention to the growing prevalence of HIV-tuberculosis co-infection and the critical need for increased global efforts to prevent and treat childhood malnutrition-the underlying cause of death for up to five million children per year-are also included in the list.

Many of the countries on this year's list illustrate the ever-shrinking space for impartial humanitarian action, making it extremely difficult to deliver aid to those most affected and vulnerable. Aid organizations now operate with increased security risks and in generally more hazardous and threatening environments. In highly politicized and volatile conflicts such as those in Somalia, Pakistan, Sudan, and Iraq, MSF-despite its neutrality and independence-is limited in its ability to directly address immense medical needs.

In Somalia, intensified violence, including direct attacks and threats against aid workers, meant that MSF had to curtail some of its operations in 2008, including the withdrawal of its international staff, significantly reducing the quality of assistance provided to an already weakened population. In Pakistan, hundreds of thousands of people fled air attacks and bombings from a counter-insurgency campaign in the northwest area earlier in the year. After aid workers in the country were threatened, attacked, and kidnapped, MSF restricted the number of international staff in its projects.

In places such as Myanmar and Zimbabwe-where governments fail to make health care a priority or view NGO interventions with suspicion-humanitarian organizations are either limited in the type of assistance they can provide or are left to deal with overwhelming health crises on their own. In Myanmar, where MSF is the main provider of HIV care, hundreds of thousands of people are needlessly dying due to a severe lack of HIV/AIDS treatment while the government does far too little to help its own people.

Governments are also ignoring the crisis of childhood malnutrition. In Niger, the government in 2008 forced the termination of MSF's child nutrition program in the region of Maradi, where tens of thousands of children were suffering from acute malnutrition. As a result, they have not received proven and highly effective treatment. The closure came at a time when efforts to make progress in the fight against malnutrition globally are more possible-and more necessary-than ever.

MSF began producing the "Top Ten" list in 1998. Drawing on MSF's emergency medical work, the list seeks to generate greater awareness of the magnitude and severity of crises that may or may not be reflected in media accounts.

Submitted by NatsGrant on January 3, 2009 - 6:39pm.

Based in Nairobi, I admit I have no experience of Somalia beyond the work being done from afar. Since the terrorist attacks in Somaliland in October 2008, all UN international staff have been 'bored' in Nairobi. Only local partners and NGOs have even remained in Somaliland, and they are working under very strict security with limited movement. Many UN international staff are hopeful that they will be able to return to Somaliland later this month. As for Puntland, the upcoming elections are leaving some a little edgy. However, it is South Central - and Ethiopia's current pull out, that is giving the greatest concern. Today, Uganda threatened to pull out and insurgents have taken over police stations. With no more Ethiopian military presence, a long battle for Mogadishu between the various factions is feared.

My main area of focus for Somalia is in health, so I can only comment on this. The situation is getting more serious as the human resources available for health are very limited. This is described perfectly by MSF, and experienced by everyone. Local organisations are doing an amazing job given the circumstances - particularly the targeting of individuals previously or currently connected with Western organisations (teachers, NGO workers, journalists, etc).

Submitted by umakant on February 2, 2011 - 1:39pm.

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