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The Bottom 10 List
UN peacekeepers in Congo
The immense human toll caused by conflicts in the <a href="
http://www.ideaexplore.net/news/040928.html#Congo">Democratic Republic of Congo
(DRC)</a>, Haiti, Chechnya, and northeast India are among the <a href="
http://www.doctorswithoutborders.org/publications/reports/2006/top10_2005.html">"Top Ten"
Most Underreported Humanitarian Stories of 2005</a>, according to the year-end list released
today by the international humanitarian medical aid organization Doctors Without
Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF). The eighth annual list also highlights the lack of media
attention paid to the plight of people trapped by chronic wars in Colombia, northern Uganda, and
Ivory Coast, unrelenting crises in Somalia and southern Sudan, as well as the utter lack of research
and development devoted to new HIV/AIDS tools adapted for impoverished settings.
"Media coverage can have a positive impact on relief efforts — just look at the nutritional crisis in
Niger last year," said Nicolas de Torrente, Executive Director of MSF in the United States.
"Although relief was far too late for many, the only reason aid efforts increased at all was the media
attention at the peak of the crisis."
According to Andrew Tyndall, publisher of the online media-tracking journal The Tyndall Report,
the 10 stories highlighted by MSF accounted for just 8 minutes of the 14,529 minutes on the three
major U.S. television networks' nightly newscasts for 2005. Natural disasters like the south Asia
tsunami and the war in Iraq dominated international reporting. But in a year that Tyndall said had
an unusually high amount of international coverage, only 6 minutes were devoted to DR Congo and
2 minutes to Chechnya. The remaining stories highlighted by MSF were not covered at all. The
AIDS crisis received 14 minutes of coverage, none of which, however, was devoted to the lack of
R&D.
Centers for Disease Control / C. Goldsmith
Electron micrograph of HIV-1 budding from a cell
"AIDS coverage never touches upon the near-total lack of research and development into tools
specifically adapted for patients most affected by AIDS," de Torrente said. "One example is the fact
that there are no pediatric versions of easy-to-take antiretroviral (ARV) combinations like those
that exist for adults. Without research and development into such medicines, hundreds of thousands
of children will continue to die needlessly every year."
Even though there was a general increase in international reporting, insecurity in war zones again
contributed to preventing journalists from reporting on some of the world's most dangerous regions.
"People all over the U.S. tell us how much they want to show solidarity and do more to help others
in crisis around the world. But how can they when a crisis is virtually invisible?" de Torrente said.
"Millions of people are struggling through crises in places that rarely, if ever, get mentioned in the
U.S. news, and in our experience, silence is the best ally of injustice."
The chart below gives very crude estimates or guesses of the number of people killed or affected
(by loss of family, home, or health) by each item over one decade. Estimating the average life-years
lost as about 30 per death or 2 per person affected gives the life-years for each item.
Topic
Deaths
Affected
Life-years
Congo war
5,000 thousand 20,000 thousand 190.0 million
Chechnya war
50 thousand
500 thousand
2.5 million
Port-au-Prince violence
5 thousand
50 thousand
.3 million
Lack of HIV R&D
10,000 thousand 20,000 thousand 340.0 million
NE India violence
10 thousand
200 thousand
.7 million
S Sudan poverty
30 thousand 1,000 thousand
2.9 million
Somalia anarchy
500 thousand 5,000 thousand 25.0 million
Columbia war
50 thousand 3,000 thousand
7.5 million
Lord's Resistance Army
50 thousand 2,000 thousand
5.5 million
Ivory Coast war
5 thousand
200 thousand
.6 million
Total
16 million
52 million
580 million
Previous articles
4800 characters
500 characters
5300 characters
Human News aims to devote 1 character to each 40,000 life-years, or 1000 average lives. Thus, the
number of characters on these subjects could be 580 million life-years / 40,000 life-years/character
= 14,500 characters. Since previous articles on these subjects occupied 5300 characters, this article
can have 9200 characters. This article has 2900 characters plus about 1000 characters for the two
photos, thus there could be more articles on these topics in the future.
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