Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Africa, South Asia Top UN List of Forgotten Stories

Africa, South Asia Top UN List of Forgotten Stories

15 May 2006

Heinlein report - Download 355k
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Listen to Heinlein report
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The United Nations has placed Liberia at the
top of its list of news stories the world should hear more about. Four
of the 10 most forgotten stories involve conflicts in Africa.

The list released Monday includes stories that, in the opinion of U.N. officials, escape the glare of world media.

Where two years ago, humanitarian groups were trying to call
attention to the crisis in Sudan's Darfur region, this year's focus has
shifted to Liberia, and the challenge it faces in recovering from years
of civil strife.

Charles Taylor
Charles Taylor
of the U.N. Public Information Office Shashi Tharoor says in the past,
Liberia drew intense media attention for the alleged misdeeds of former
president Charles Taylor.

But now, with Taylor in jail in Sierra Leone, and a new president in
Monrovia, Tharoor says the equally dramatic story of Liberia's revival
is being largely ignored.

"This is a country, which, when there was war, and killing, and
conflict, that got attention," he said. "When we finally have brought
about a peace and the U.N. does feel very proud about what it has
accomplished, when we have been able to see a fair and free election,
that has elected a strong woman leader, then the spotlight moves away
and it's again focused on a jail cell in Sierra Leone where a bad man,
a not yet convicted bad man, is awaiting trial."

The U.N. has been compiling the list since 2004 to call attention to
items that might otherwise be lost in the multitude of stories about
war, disease and poverty.

Last year's list included the little-known battle to prevent
crippling injuries suffered by women during childbirth, a condition
known as obstetric fistula. Tharoor says a series of stories that
appeared as a result of the list helped raise awareness and money for
the cause.

"I'm not saying that this alone solves the problem, but it means
that suddenly something that no one was conscious about, suddenly when
you talk to someone, 'Oh! obstetric fistula, we read about that, what
was that all about?' and at least you've opened a small crack in the
door," he said.

UN peackeepers patrol in western Ivory Coast
UN peackeepers patrol in western Ivory Coast
addition to Liberia, this year's list of forgotten stories includes
three other conflict-ridden African nations. Among them are the
Democratic Republic of Congo, described as a country in transition from
civil war to peace and democracy; Somalia, where a security vacuum
compounds the effects of a severe drought; and Ivory Coast, said to be
on a "knife's edge" due to fears of renewed violence that could destroy
a hoped-for political reconciliation.

South Asia placed two stories on the list; the tragedy of children
caught in Nepal's 10-year war with Maoist rebels, and the aftermath of
the earthquake that struck India and Pakistan last year.


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