Tuesday 23 December 2008

Burma One of the Worst Crises in the World: MSF

Source from Irrawaddy news, 22 Dec 2008

Military-ruled Burma is hosting one of the world’s worst humanitarian and medical emergencies, alongside the Democratic Republic of Congo, Somalia, Iraq, Sudan and Pakistan, according to a Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) report on Monday.

But whereas massive forced civilian displacements, violence and unmet medical needs were identified as causes of crises in many nations, MSF singled out Burma and Zimbabwe as having humanitarian emergencies in 2008 due to government neglect.

In its annual list of “Top Ten” humanitarian crises, the Geneva-based organization, which won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1999, stated: “In places such as Myanmar [Burma] and Zimbabwe—where governments fail to make health care a priority or view NGO interventions with suspicion—humanitarian organizations are either limited in the type of assistance they can provide or are left to deal with overwhelming health crises on their own.”
MSF added that hundreds of thousands of people in Burma are needlessly dying due to a severe lack of HIV/AIDS treatment as the Burmese government “does far too little to help its own people.”

The organization reported two specific humanitarian disasters in the country which it termed “critical”—the Cyclone Nargis disaster, which killed an estimated 130,000 people, and the HIV/AIDS problem, which was responsible for around 25,000 Burmese lives in 2007 alone.

“Governed by a military regime since 1962 and enduring low-intensity conflict in certain areas, the disaster was the latest blow to a people largely forgotten by the outside world,” MSF stated.

“Sadly the struggle to get an appropriate level of assistance for Myanmar’s most vulnerable people is one that extends throughout the country,” it added.
MSF said an estimated 75,000 people in Burma urgently need antiretroviral therapy to treat HIV/ AIDS, but less than 20 percent of those can get access to it.

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