MSF: Top 10 humanitarian crisis of 2009

MSF: Afghan elder with child

Just like Christmas carols, pennies in the Salvation Army collection tin, loads of booze, turkey experiments in the oven, and presents you never asked for, MSF (or "Doctors without Borders" for the Anglophones) has its annual traditions too: Every year-end, them release theirs "Top Ten Humanitarian Crisis of 2009".

On The Road, we have the tradition of summarizing this Top 10 of "world shame" (see our 2008 and 2007 posts).

Top 10 humanitarian crisis of 2009MSF began with the "Top Ten" list in 1998, when a famine in southern Sudan went largely unreported in the US media. Maybe due to the CNN effect ("no media attention, no aid pesos"), MSF went a more commercial course last year, converting "the most Underreported Crisis" list, to "the Top 10 Humanitarian Crisis".

This year, MSF reports in their top 10:

  • Unrelenting Violence Stalks Civilians Throughout Eastern DR Congo (Tell me something new, DRC tops the list every year)
  • Somalis Endure Violence and Lack of Access to Health Care (been in the top list since.. well, since for ever)
  • Precarious Situation for People in Southern Sudan and Darfur (tell me something new)
  • Thousands Injured during the Final Stage of Sri Lanka's Decades-long War (ok, the Sri Lanka government topped themselves this year, I have to admit. They deserved a special mention for nearing genocide this year.)
  • Civilians Suffer From Violence & Neglect in Pakistan (Mjah... More than last year, I agree. But mostly over-reported news this year.)
  • Politics of Aid Leaves many Afghans Cut off from Humanitarian Assistance (On the hit list since the 70's, but US violence in Afghanistan definitively increased, I agree. Hardly underreported news, though).
  • Civilians Trapped in Violent War in Northern Yemen ("North, South, Left, Right:Yemen is always in the Fight. North, South, Left, Right...." Now that the US and Saudis start bombing Yemen rebels, all will be over soon. Rrright.)
  • Woefully Inadequate Funding Undermines Gains in Childhood Malnutrition Treatment (True. No change.)
  • Funding for AIDS Treatment Stagnating Despite Millions Still in Need (True. No change)
  • Lack of R&D and Scale Up of Treatment Plagues Patients with Neglected Diseases (True. No change).
For as far as I am concerned, the 2009 list could just have been a cut and paste from the 2008 list. Except that for one reason or the other, Zimbabwe was dropped from "The List". Maybe it was considered a hopeless case anyway. How about including violence in South Africa, tribal turbulence in Kenya, sexual violence and child labour in many parts of Africa, increased hunger and malnutrition in the US, large scale displaced people in Colombia, the increase of urban poverty, inaccessibility to food rather than unavailability of food....

Guess MSF might have been a bit short of inspiration and imagination this year. But then again, in all due fairness, their "Top 10 List of Shame" is a must-read. Check out the excellent pictures list which goes with the Top 10.

How about this, why don't we start our own "2009 Humanity's Shame Top 10" list? Stay tuned, will announce it soon.

1. We kicked off our "Humanity's Shame Top 1o". Accepting nominations on this post.
2. Nominations are closed. You can vote for your "Humanity's Shame" on this post.
3. The poll results are out. Check out this post for our "Humanity's Shame Top 10"

Picture courtesy Jobi Bieber/MSF


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