Forgotten humanitarian crises around the world



Sun, 04 Jun 2017 - 07:42 GMT


Sun, 04 Jun 2017 - 07:42 GMT

Humanitarian aid in DRC -Via Flickr - Julien Harneis

Humanitarian aid in DRC -Via Flickr - Julien Harneis

CAIRO – 3 June 2017: The world is witnessing a large scale of humanitarian crises. These crises are driven by armed conflicts, natural disasters or a combination of the two. Humanitarian needs are rising with limited financial and human resources and capacity to respond.

"Today, we are experiencing the biggest gap between global humanitarian needs and humanitarian funding. In this context, we cannot afford to simply 'forget' some of the worst humanitarian crises that are taking place all over the world." Androulla Kaminara, Director for Africa, Asia, Latin America, Caribbean and Pacific for E.U. Humanitarian Aid.

“With this staggering level of need, now more than ever, world leaders need to step up their support to the world’s most vulnerable people,” says the U.N.’s Humanitarian Chief, Stephen O’Brien. “Those who are already giving need to continue their support, while new actors must also seize the opportunity to save lives.”

According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees agency (UNHCR) and the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affair (UNOCHA), the world is currently witnessing the highest levels of displacements and people in need ever. By the end of 2015, 63.5 million people around the world were forced to flee their homes and 128 million people in 33 countries need humanitarian aid to survive.

“A little less than 1 percent of the earth's population is either an asylum-seeker, internally displaced or a refugee,” said the UNHCR report published in June 2016 on the occasion of World Refugee Day.

In the middle of this chaotic situation, forgotten crises emerge. The forgotten crises are the type of crises that receive limited international attention and lack of political commitment to solve them. These crises are overlooked by media, international aid donors, decision-makers and humanitarian agencies despite their growing needs.

The forgotten crises are the most difficult to raise funds necessary to carry out humanitarian response plans. The most challenging part in any crisis is the “follow-up” part. Most of the long-lasting crises attracted attention in the first days and weeks following the outbreak of a disaster. This attention is usually followed by gradual decrease of media interest and shifts to other crises. Palestine is a good example to illustrate this issue. Bringing ongoing conflicts to a solution requires an intensive, coordinated and widespread effort.

To better analyze and respond to the emerging needs, humanitarian workers adopt a needs-based approach to ensure that aid is reaching the neediest in credible and transparent ways. This approach provides relevant data that contribute to prioritize needs, allocate funds and develop responsive plans.

Among the leading humanitarian groups that seek to shed light on the forgotten crises are the U.N., the European Union, Oxfam, the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), and Save the Children.

In 2004, the European Union (E.U.) developed an index to assess forgotten crises. This index helps to annually identify the most neglected crises around the world. Followed criteria in this index include the country’s vulnerability level, media coverage, received public aid and qualitative assessment conducted by E.U. humanitarian experts.

To respond to the needs of people who are trapped in the middle of these crises, every year the U.N. and humanitarian partners put together humanitarian appeals for funding to cover basic needs in countries affected by large crises. These appeals aim to deliver funds quickly to humanitarian responders and launch life-saving actions to protect the lives and dignity of people affected by these crises.

The Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) 2016 list of forgotten crises:

As a result of these crises, people are often forced to flee their homes. The independent international humanitarian agency NRC annually publishes a list of neglected displacement crises.

The criteria for analyzing the countries include: countries hosting at least 100,000 displaced people, lack of media attention compared to the level of the crisis and level of attention directed to displaced people, lack of economic support compared to the needs and lack of political will among armed parties on the ground to protect the rights of civilians and to engage in peace negotiations as well as unwillingness or inability among international groups to find political solutions.

The NRC published its list of top ten forgotten displacement crises for 2016 on June 2nd, 2017. The list included the following crises building on UNHCR and UNRWA figures:


THE CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC (CAR): According to the NRC, the international efforts in CAR are inconsistent and the aid is insufficient. The humanitarian situation in CAR receives little attention in international media. The report highlights that more than 885,317 people are displaced. In CAR, 48 percent of the population faces food insecurity. Only 35 percent of its citizens have access to clean water, and only 27 percent have access to basic sanitation. For the third year, CAR is at the bottom of the U.N. Human Development Index, placed as number 188 out of 188 countries.

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF THE CONGO (DRC): More than 2,766,074 people are displaced in the DRC. In May 2017, the U.N. warned that the humanitarian situation in the country was deteriorating dramatically. The crisis in DRC receives little attention in international media and doesn’t receive sufficient funds to fulfill the needs of the people.

The international political interest in DRC is also decreasing. Even though the U.N.’s largest peacekeeping force, MONUSCO, has failed to stabilize the eastern region, it has decided to reduce its capacity. After 20 years of conflict, 10 percent of DRC’s population needs humanitarian aid.

Sudan : The armed conflict continues to worsen the humanitarian situation in Sudan and it receives very little attention. Despite President Omar al-Bashir’s declaration of a ceasefire in June 2016, violence continues to drive people to flee. According to the NRC, 3,938,986 people are displaced in Sudan. Displacement peaked in January 2016 when 190,000 people fled from their homes because of fighting between government soldiers and armed groups. Parts of Sudan are severely affected by food shortages and malnutrition because of harsh weather conditions and unpredictable rainfall. Hundreds of thousands of people do not receive the life-saving help they need because of challenges in accessing communities. Lack of data from several areas also means that the extent of peoples’ needs remains unknown. The authorities block access for peacekeeping forces.

SOUTH SUDAN: On February 20, 2017, the U.N. declared famine in parts of South Sudan. Almost half of the country’s population is in need of humanitarian assistance.

However, the crisis in South Sudan has gained little media attention despite the 2,708,172 displaced people. The famine in South Sudan is a man-made disaster resulting from war, violence and terror. In many agricultural areas, insecurity prevents people from cultivating their soil. Those with cattle lose their stock and cannot access pastures. People are also prevented from accessing waters for fishing. The poor security situation is making it difficult for the humanitarian community to access people in need.

NIGERIA : 2,136,294 people are displaced in Nigeria. More than 2 million people have been forced to flee because of fighting between the armed group Boko Haram and government forces in northeast Nigeria. The population is affected by serious food shortage. Some 750,000 children under 5 years and 6 million adults suffer from severe malnutrition. Aid organizations struggle to reach affected communities because of ongoing violence.

YEMEN : 1,959,657 people are displaced in Yemen. 70 percent of the population depends on humanitarian assistance to survive. Yemen receives little attention from the international community. Before this crisis, Yemen was the poorest country in the Arab Region.

PALESTINE : Around 5,000,000 people are displaced in Palestine. The world’s most prolonged crises started in 1948. Palestinians continue being displaced from the occupied West Bank because of new Israeli settlements and demolition of Palestinian homes. Despite the fact that the scale of the crisis has grown over the last 70 years, the attention it receives has declined. The military operation in Gaza in 2014 led to massive destruction, conflict and isolation. It forced 80 percent of the population to depend fully on international aid.

UKRAINE : 1,976,428 people are displaced in the Ukraine. Three years after armed conflict erupted in 2014, more than 9,900 people have been killed, including 2,000 civilians. About 3.8 million need humanitarian aid. The conflict has led to significant needs for humanitarian assistance and access to basic services.

MYANMAR : 1,095,104 people are displaced in Myanmar. Over the years, hundreds of thousands of people have fled their homes as a result of conflicts, which are mostly rooted in minorities’ demands for equal rights, access to land and resources, and greater autonomy. In the northwest area of the country, there are long-standing tensions between the Muslim minority and the Buddhist community. Villages have been destroyed as a result of these tensions. Violence also escalated in these areas during 2016. In southeastern Myanmar, an estimated 400,000 people remain displaced after decades of conflict, and another 100,000 remain in camps in Thailand.

SOMALIA : 2,204,757 people are displaced in Somalia. The country has been hit by its worst drought in 20 years. Half of the country relies on humanitarian assistance to survive. Since November 2016, drought has driven almost 700,000 Somalis to flee their homes. Contributions from the international community are still insufficient to cope with the crisis. Hunger, lack of access to clean drinking water and disease are increasingly taking lives in Somalia. Cholera is present in 11 out of the countries’ 18 regions.

Other examples of forgotten crises include Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, The Lake Chad Basin, Madagascar, Mali, the Sahel and Uganda.

Humanitarian and development groups are urgently requested to enhance their level of coordination to improve the humanitarian system and sustain the needs of most vulnerable groups. A special attention should be directed towards the protracted and neglected crises. Employed tools to serve this objective should include media technology with special focus on social media and grassroots communication to bring attention to the forgotten crises.



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