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San Francisco Man Investigates "Neglected" Humanitarian Disaster

July 5, 2007

Hot spots of the world get a lot of attention for humanitarian help, like Sudan, tsunami zones, and Gaza. But there's another emergency situation being overlooked, according to relief group Mercy Corps. Richard Jacquot of San Francisco has defied a U.S. State Department warning to stay out of the Central African Republic, commonly called CAR. He's there now surveying what's needed for the 250,000 people who have lost their homes because of war and rebel fighting.

“A quarter of its population is on the move -- either they are displaced, or they are refugees. There is no more school system in place and very little health facilities.”

Two World Health Organization doctors were murdered in CAR in April. Jacquot says he's used to being in dangerous situations. In the past, he's set up shelter operations in Iraq, Sudan, and Bosnia.

A U.N. Commission has called CAR the most neglected disaster in the world. Jacquot reports that most farming villages have been burned, sending people into nearby tropical forests to hide...

“They go back to the village when they see there is nobody there. They go back and take care of their land if they can. And when it's not safe, they stay in the forest.”

Deborah Smith/Eric Mack, Public News Service - CA