December 22, 2008 / 10:17 PM / 11 years ago

Doctors aid group lists top 10 humanitarian crises

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Doctors Without Borders issued a top 10 list of humanitarian crises on Monday that included Congo, Somalia, Iraq and Sudan as well as what it called “neglected medical emergencies” in Myanmar and Zimbabwe.

A group of women sit outside of a police station at the Kibati camp for internally displaced people outside of the city of Goma, eastern DRC, December 4, 2008. REUTERS/Peter Andrews

The international medical aid group said its list underscored the difficulties in bringing assistance to people affected by violence, especially highly politicized conflicts such as those in Pakistan, Iraq, Sudan and Somalia.

The eighth country on the list was Ethiopia, where Doctors Without Borders, known by its French acronym MSF, said violence and harsh climactic conditions made living a struggle for people in the Somali region of the country.

The other two crises on the list were not in particular countries, but rather cross-border problems.

“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,” MSF said in a statement about the list, which was not in order of gravity.

The group said its medical teams witnessed firsthand the consequences of violence, displacement and neglected yet treatable diseases and health needs around the world.

“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,” said MSF International Council President Christophe Fournier.

He said MSF had been forced to curtail its work in Somalia because of direct attacks, and aid workers helping hundreds of thousands of people displaced by air attacks in northwest Pakistan had taken similar steps after threats and attacks.

In Myanmar and Zimbabwe, MSF blamed the governments for failing to provide adequate health care or assist aid workers.

“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,” the statement said.

Zimbabwe is battling one of the worst cholera epidemics in its history at a time of political paralysis that Western countries blame on President Robert Mugabe.

Details on all the crises on the list can be seen here

Editing by Cynthia Osterman

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