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Medical aid group lists underreported humanitarian stories
Bakersfield Californian ^ | 1/9/04 | Barbara Borst - AP

Posted on 01/09/2004 7:54:41 PM PST by NormsRevenge

NEW YORK (AP) - A medical aid group said Friday that the American news media last year provided too little coverage of some world trouble spots, including the conflicts in Colombia, Chechnya and Congo.

In its annual list of "underreported humanitarian stories," Medecins Sans Frontieres also cited a lack of media attention to the high death toll worldwide from malaria, the crises in North Korea and Somalia and the limited access of poor people to anti-AIDS medicines.

"It's clearly a valid criticism when applied most broadly to the American media, but some of those conflicts such as the Congo and Colombia, we (The Washington Post) cover quite aggressively," The Washington Post's assistant managing editor for foreign news, Philip Bennett, told The Associated Press.

Nicolas de Torrente, the executive director of the U.S. branch of MSF, also known as Doctors Without Borders, told The Associated Press that the list focuses on U.S. news coverage because American media underreport international events in general, except for security issues and the Middle East.

"I think there are economic aspects to" the limited American news coverage of many regions," he said. "The other part is the assumption, the preconception that people are not interested. I don't believe that to be true."

The MSF report, released this week, said brutality toward civilians, including aid workers, increased in 2003. It also cited the predicament of Arjan Erkel, head of MSF's Northern Caucasus mission, who has been held hostage since he was kidnapped in the Russian republic of Dagestan in August 2002.

"Such insecurity contributes to preventing journalists from providing wider coverage of some of the world's most dangerous regions," the report said.

On some stories, the humanitarian dimensions were overlooked, the aid group said. For example, U.S. trade initiatives were widely reported, but the possibility that trade agreements would restrict poor people's access to lifesaving medications drew little attention.

"I think there is a problem of overlooking major global trends such as economic or environmental issues because of the urgency of covering security issues," such as in the Middle East at this time, Bennett said.

According to MSF, the 10 most underreported humanitarian stories of 2003 were: the refugee crisis in Chad, unrest in Chechnya, fighting in Burundi, civil wars in Colombia and the Congo, malaria, unrest in Somalia, North Korean political repression and chronic food shortages, trade agreements threaten access to medicines, the Ivory Coast's civil war.

TOPICS: Culture/Society; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: chechnya; colombia; congo; deathtoll; docswithoutborders; doctorswoborders; doctorswoutborders; doctorswthtborders; drswithoutborders; dwb; group; humanitarian; lists; medicalaid; stories; underreported

1 posted on 01/09/2004 7:54:43 PM PST by NormsRevenge
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