Congo Watch: Congo war tops AlertNet poll of 'forgotten' crises

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Congo war tops AlertNet poll of 'forgotten' crises

Here is a copy of a Reuters London report dated March 9, 2005, by Ruth Gidley:

Brutal conflicts in Congo, Uganda and Sudan are the world's three biggest "forgotten emergencies", each dwarfing the toll of the Asian tsunami but attracting scant media interest, a new Reuters AlertNet poll of experts shows.

War in the Democratic Republic of Congo, a country two-thirds the size of Western Europe, has claimed at least 10 times as many lives as the December tsunami yet remains almost unheard of outside of Africa, key players in the aid world said.

"It's the worst humanitarian tragedy since the Holocaust," John O'Shea, chief executive of Irish relief agency GOAL, told AlertNet. "The greatest example on the planet of man's inhumanity to man."

AlertNet asked 102 humanitarian professionals, media personalities, academics and policymakers which "forgotten" crises they would urge the media to focus on in 2005.

Answers came back from across the spectrum, from royal connections, acting stars and a Nobel prize winner, as well as various U.N. agencies and dozens of NGOs.

Many experts accused the Western media of routinely ignoring emergencies in countries of low geopolitical importance for big powers despite the enormous scale of suffering.

"One television news producer we met in the U.S. summed up the situation since spring 2003 this way: 'Look, we've got three foreign news priorities these days: Iraq, Iraq, Iraq,'" said Gareth Evans, president of Belgian think tank Crisis Group.

Almost half of those polled -- including U.N. relief coordinator Jan Egeland and U.S. leftwing intellectual Noam Chomsky -- nominated Congo, citing the brutality of an ugly, tangled war that has killed 3.8 million people since 1998, according to the International Rescue Committee.

'AFRICA'S WORLD WAR'

"It’s Africa’s First World War," said British journalist Jon Snow, news anchorman for Channel 4 television. Read full story at
http://www.alertnet.org/thefacts/reliefresources/111038817665.htm

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