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10 Jan 2004 10:42
American news media provide too little coverage of the conflicts in Colombia, Chechnya, Burundi and Congo, and on the refugee crisis on the Chad-Sudan border, the medical aid group Medecins Sans Frontieres said in its sixth annual list of “underreported humanitarian stories”.
The US branch of MSF also cited a lack of media attention to the high death toll worldwide from malaria, the crises in North Korea and Somalia, the conflict in Cote d’Ivoire and the limited access of poor people to anti-Aids medicines.
Nicolas de Torrente, executive director of MSF-USA, said on Friday that the list focusses on US news coverage because the United States 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.
“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, US trade initiatives were widely reported, but the possibility that trade agreements would restrict poor people’s access to lifesaving medications drew little attention.
De Torrente said in a news release that while North Korea was in the headlines all year, “the nightmarish situation for people living there ... was nearly invisible.”
The 10 most underreported humanitarian stories of 2003, according to MSF, were:
Thousands of refugees have been forced back, and aid workers have been sent to Chinese jails.
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