MSF Issues "Top Ten" List of the Year's Most Underreported Humanitarian Stories

White flag with red logo of Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) against sunny blue sky

© Valérie Batselaere/MSF

Third Annual Listing Emphasizes Unremitting Violence Against Civilians in Chechnya, Angola, Colombia, Indonesia

January 15, 2001 — Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) today issued its third annual list of the most underreported humanitarian stories of the year. The organization compiled the list to call attention to human crises that were largely ignored by the U.S. press during 2000.

"There has been a virtual blackout of international news during the final chapter in the presidential race, said Joelle Tanguy, executive director of the U.S. office of Doctors Without Borders. "But news of human suffering, from Chechnya to Indonesia, has been obscured by election coverage all year." She added, "It is unconscionable that in three presidential debates, including one ostensibly devoted to foreign affairs, not one of the issues on our list surfaced."

New items on this year's list included Nigeria's health care system, whose chaotic state poses enormous challenges for the new, democratic government; and Bangladesh's Rohingya refugees, members of a persecuted ethnic minority who fled Myanmar (Burma) in 1992 and now languish without a permanent home or nationality.

"It is notable that many of the items on this list are repeats from previous years," said Ms. Tanguy. "The devastating and ongoing wars in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Sierra Leone, and Angola, for example, continue to be neglected by the U.S. media despite diplomatic gestures from the U.S. government toward each of these countries," said Ms. Tanguy. "In addition, the lack of progress on researching and making affordable life-saving medicines for people in the developing world is an issue that deserves better coverage."

While wars claimed thousands of lives this year, infectious diseases--and AIDS in particular--took many more. While the spread of the AIDS epidemic is better covered each year, the "Top Ten List" calls attention to the tragic, and underreported, failure of pharmaceutical manufacturers to make good on their promises to reduce the prices of AIDS medications in the developing world.

Doctors Without Borders delivers medical aid to victims of wars, natural and man-made disasters, epidemics, and social and geographic isolation in nearly 90 countries. In 2000, more than 3,000 Doctors Without Borders volunteers brought aid not only to the world's "hot spots" but to many places that fall outside the glare of the media's spotlight. A full account of the "Top Ten" crises follows.

>> Read "The 10 Most Underreported Humanitarian Crises of 2000"