- Two Southern African states, have been named in the top ten of the world's worst humanitarian crises, by medical humanitarian organisation.
In its list published today, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) names the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) as well as Zimbabwe as amongst the worst regions in the world.
"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," MSF reported today in its annual list of the "Top Ten" humanitarian crises.
The report which underscores major difficulties in bringing assistance to people affected by conflict, also said 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, are also included in the list.
"Working on the frontlines of crisis zones throughout the world, MSF medical teams witness firsthand the medical and psychological consequences people endure from extreme violence, displacement, and neglected - yet treatable - diseases and health needs," said MSF International Council President Dr Christophe Fournier.
"In some of these places, it is extremely difficult for aid groups to access populations requiring help. Where we are able to provide assistance, we have a special responsibility to bear witness and speak out about intolerable suffering and draw attention to basic humanitarian needs - needs that are often largely ignored," he said.
The report 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.
It stated that aid organisations now operate with increased security risks and in generally more hazardous and threatening environments. "In highly politicised 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, said the report, 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.
The report further pointed out that in places such as Myanmar and Zimbabwe - where governments fail to make health care a priority or view NGO interventions with suspicion - humanitarian organisations are either limited in the type of assistance they can provide or are left to deal with overwhelming health crises on their own.
The report continued that governments are also ignoring the crisis of childhood malnutrition, giving an example of Niger, where the government this year forced the termination of MSF’s child nutrition programme in the region of Maradi, where tens of thousands of children were suffering from acute malnutrition.
"The reality on the ground is that the humanitarian community is unable to do nearly enough for populations in grave need of medical assistance," Dr Fournier said, adding "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 began producing the "Top Ten" list in 1998, drawing attention to the devastating famine in southern Sudan. The list seeks to generate greater awareness of the magnitude and severity of crises that may or may not be reflected, especially in media accounts.
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