A soldier stands in front of election posters in Grozny after the general elections, Monday 28 November 2005. PHOTO - TASR/EPA
NAIROBI - With Iraq and the Asian tsunami dominating international headlines in 2005, scant airtime was devoted to other major and devastating conflicts and crises from Haiti to Chechnya, a global aid agency said last week. "Silence is the best ally of injustice," said Nicolas de Torrente, the U.S. director of Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF). MSF published its annual list of the 10 most under-reported humanitarian stories round the world in a bid to jolt consciences into helping the millions of neglected victims.
The world's poorest continent, Africa, accounted for half of the list with five of its worst crises - the Democratic Republic of Congo, south Sudan, Somalia, Uganda and Ivory Coast. Other neglected hot spots were Haiti, Colombia, north India and Chechnya. The lack of attention on the need for research and development into AIDS completed the MSF list. The agency said the positive impact media attention can have was demonstrated by the big response to a well-publicised famine in the west African nation of Niger last year. By contrast, MSF quoted research from the media-tracking journal The Tyndall Report showing that its 10 highlighted crises only accounted for eight minutes of the 14,529 minutes on three major U.S. television networks' nightly newscasts in 2005.
MSF did not rank the crises in order of importance. But its report gave first mention to the vast Democratic Republic of Congo, where a 1998-2003 war killed nearly 4 million people and 1,000 more a day still die from conflict-related causes. "The extreme deprivation and violence endured by millions of Congolese goes virtually unnoticed to the rest of the world," MSF said, noting that recent fighting between the Congolese army and Mai Mai rebels had displaced tens of thousands.