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Global Community Called to Put Iraqi Crisis in Perspective - 2003-05-02


Humanitarian group “Doctors Without Borders” has called on the global community to put the Iraqi crisis in perspective. VOA-TV’s Jim Bertel reports the group wants to refocus attention on the humanitarian emergencies in Africa and elsewhere.

The head of Doctors Without Borders, Dr. Morten Rostrup, says humanitarian challenges remain in Iraq, but he does not describe the situation there as a humanitarian catastrophe.

DR. MORTEN ROSTRUP, DOCTORS WITHOUT BORDERS
"It is telling that after two weeks assessment and being in ten Cities, MSF has not found any reason to justify a major humanitarian medical program in Iraq.”

Dr. Rostrup says none of the conventional signs of disasters such as famine, epidemics and mass displacements of people exist in Iraq. Any perception of a large humanitarian crisis there, he says, is fueled by media coverage of the war.

DR. MORTEN ROSTRUP, DOCTORS WITHOUT BORDERS
“There were hundreds of journalists in Baghdad during the war and I met many of them, and you know, I think, take a step back and look at what is really happening on the ground, what kind of crisis is this and what is the adequate way of dealing with it and also keep perspective on other crisis in the world today."

BRUCE WILKINSON, SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT, WORLD VISION
“When you compare the humanitarian need that exists in Africa to the need in IRAQ – there is no comparison.”

Bruce Wilkinson has spent 17 years living and working in Africa, and he agrees it would be unfortunate to allow the war in Iraq to overshadow ongoing humanitarian crises on that continent. Now a senior vice president at world vision, he says AIDS, climate change and war are creating massive humanitarian struggles affecting tens of millions of people there. These problems require long term fixes, not just short-term responses.

BRUCE WILKINSON
“We need to be investing in the livelihood of people so they can generate their own resources, food resources, stimulate the economies so that we’re not constantly going back and putting band-aids on the problems in Africa.”

The international focus on Iraq is being felt across the developing world. Newly independent East Timor faces the loss of 40 percent of its U.S. aid as Washington diverts funds for Iraq. East Timor’s foreign minister Jose Ramos-Horta worries this could destabilize the newly independent state.

JOSE RAMOS-HORTA, FOREIGN MINISTER OF EAST TIMOR
"The next two or three years remain very fragile. Peace and security must be sustained through investments in job creation, through feeding the people and I hope that our friends in the international community are not completely overtaken by the events in Iraq and the Middle East and forget about East Timor and leave a half-finished job."

World Vision’s Bruce Wilkinson believes investing today in the world’s poorest places, including Africa and east Timor, will nurture stability around the world.

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