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Aid Group Names Top 10 Humanitarian Crises of 2008

The international humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders has named the world's worst crises of 2008, including neglected medical needs in Iraq, Zimbabwe and Myanmar. Ray Suarez speaks with the group's executive director, Nicolas de Torrente.

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  • GWEN IFILL:

    And now a global view of human suffering in a grim ranking published today. Ray Suarez has that.

  • RAY SUAREZ:

    For the last 11 years, the international medical assistance group Doctors Without Borders has released its list of the top 10 humanitarian crises.

    The group operates in 60 nations. Joining us to talk about this year's list is NICOLAS DE TORRENTE, the executive director. Welcome to the program.

    What are the top world's top 10 humanitarian crises?

  • NICOLAS DE TORRENTE, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, DOCTORS WITHOUT BORDERS:

    Well, Ray, the list is compiled on the — based on the experience of our field teams, who are working, as you said, in about 60 countries around the world.

    So, it's actually tough job to select the ones that we think are the most severe. So, we look at the scope, the magnitude, and severity of the crises.

    And ours is the humanitarian perspective. So, it is really what people are going through, what they're experiencing, how they're coping, how crises are affecting them.

    So, this year, we are focusing on a number of entrenched and escalating conflicts, some of them in Africa, Somalia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Sudan, the Somali region of Ethiopia.

    We're also looking at the — of course, the situation in Iraq, and in Pakistan, where conflict and violence has escalated in the past year.

    We also have two countries where the issue is more the — the policy and attitude of the government, of repressive regimes. They neglect the basic health needs, basic needs of their population.

    That is Myanmar and Zimbabwe. And then we have two really neglected health crises, major health threats that we think deserve a lot more attention, and they're taking a massive toll, malnutrition affecting especially young kids, and HIV T.B. co-infection.

    We know lot about HIV and AIDS and a lot of effort there, but T.B., tuberculosis, associated with AIDS, is really on the rise. And we're fighting — it's a disease that we're fighting really with one hand tied behind our back.

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