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Aid Group: Somalia, Congo, Burma Among Top 10 Crises


An international aid organization says violence in Somalia, forced civilian displacements in eastern Congo, and neglected medical emergencies in Burma and Zimbabwe are among its top 10 humanitarian crises of 2008.

In the release of its annual list Monday, Doctors Without Borders (Medecins Sans Frontieres) says it hopes to focus much needed attention on the millions of people who are trapped in conflict and war. The group says it also hopes to draw attention to medical crises, and the plight of those whose immediate health needs are being neglected.

MSF says the ability to address immense medical needs in Pakistan, Somalia, Sudan and Iraq is limited by the ongoing violent conflicts in those countries.

Over the past year, the group says it has had to curtail its operations in Somalia as violence there intensified and aid workers faced direct attacks and threats.

MSF says the impact of Cyclone Nargis on Burma earlier this year forced the country's reclusive military regime to open its doors to international aid, but it says diseases like AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria are all but ignored.

The group says that in places such as Burma and Zimbabwe, government mistrust of aid organizations as well as health care policies have limited the amount of assistance groups can provide.

In Burma alone, Doctors Without Borders says hundreds of thousands are needlessly dying due to a severe lack of HIV/AIDS treatment. Doctors Without Borders says the government there is doing far too little to help its people.

The group says the government of Niger is also ignoring its crisis of child malnutrition. It notes that in 2008, Niger forced the termination of a Doctors Without Borders program in the region of Maradi, where tens of thousands are suffering acute malnutrition.

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