Humanitarian aid organization Care Australia has published its annual list of the top 10 major crises that were under-funded and under-reported by the global media over the past year.
The Suffering in Silence report examined 2.4 million articles and found that in 2019, 51 million people were negatively impacted across 10 crises that received little to almost no international media attention. While life for the average person is far better today than any time in history, the report explains that 160 million people still need almost $30 billion AUD in humanitarian assistance to live healthy, happy lives — a fivefold surge since 2007.
Sally Austin, CARE International’s head of emergency operations, hopes the report encourages policymakers, media, and aid organizations to “make conscious choices about their priorities” and allow forgotten humanitarian disasters to receive much-needed funding.
"There is often a direct link between media coverage and the amount of relief funding sent to an emergency. It’s important people’s voices are heard so they can get the help they need,” the report states. “But this problem is not so simple as pointing the finger at the media for focusing on certain crises more than others. Journalists face many challenges in terms of visas, safety, and newsroom budgets. Bringing much-needed coverage and awareness to these forgotten crises is the reason we write this report.”
For the fourth consecutive year, CARE has analysed media articles from around the world and identified which global crises have received the least amount of coverage.— CARE Australia (@CAREAustralia) January 29, 2020
These following 10 countries have been #SufferingInSilence. https://t.co/fdsBMBQ1xY
From floods to food insecurity, civil wars to climate change, here are the top 10 most forgotten crises that fell under the international media radar in 2019.
Madagascar, an island in the Indian Ocean off the coast of Mozambique, is increasingly witnessing severe and prolonged drought and cyclones. With much of the population living off the land, the severe weather events have directly affected 2.6 million people and left over 360,000 individuals on the brink of famine.
Ursula Mueller, the United Nations (UN) deputy humanitarian chief, has urged the world to wake up to the crisis.
"There is a need for immediate humanitarian assistance to save the lives of 366,000 people that are in emergency levels of food insecurity — which is one step away from famine,” she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. “We need to build their resilience so that they can withstand the next shocks of drought, flood, cyclones, and epidemics, and improve their lives.”
Central African Republic
Brutal conflicts have plagued the Central African Republic since it first gained independence from France in 1960.
The civil war, fought between the government, Muslim Seleka rebels, and anti-balaka militias, is driving continued displacement and food insecurity. Over half the country's 4.5 million population is in need of humanitarian assistance, and 1 in 4 people have been forced to flee their homes.
Around 35% of the population currently faces critical levels of food insecurity.
It’s undeniable that temperatures are rising globally.
Temperatures in southern Africa, however, are rising at around twice the global rate, and Zambia is bearing the brunt of the extreme weather, Care reports. The intensity of the heat is increasing the severity and length of drought throughout the nation, leaving an estimated 2.3 million people in need of immediate food assistance.
The people of Burundi, the fifth poorest nation in the world, have had to contend for years with poor access to healthcare and inadequate water and sanitation.
Political insecurity, natural disasters, malaria epidemics, conflict, and the effects of climate change mean the majority of the population live below the poverty line, and 1.7 million individuals live with hunger and malnutrition.
International media organizations have long struggled to access the small East African nation. As a result, the international community has, for the most part, been unaware of the extent of the nation’s drought and internal conflict. The intense drought has caused significant crop failures — which is in part responsible for the fact that half of all children under five are stunted due to malnutrition.
The nation, which bans private humanitarian organizations from operating, also has one of the highest rates of fleeing people. According to Care, the steady exodus can be linked to prolonged military service obligations, forced labor, ongoing internal disputes, and a lagging economy.
Democratic People's Republic of Korea
North Korea often makes international headlines over its leader’s family tree, nuclear weapons, and tense relations with South Korea.
However, due to political isolation, censorship issues, and a near-total ban on foreign tourists, wide-spread humanitarian challenges like poverty and hunger are often underreported. According to the UN, 43% of the 25 million population faces malnourishment, and almost 11 million people need humanitarian assistance.
Kenya, one of the tourist hotspots of East Africa, is struggling to deal with the effects of climate change in a major way.
Severe drought and intense weather events have left over a million people without regular and reliable access to food. The west of Kenya recorded the driest season on record in 2019, while severe downpours toward the end of the year resulted in tens of thousands of people being forced to flee their homes and 130 deaths.
The number of displaced people in Burkina Faso increased tenfold in 2019.
According to Care, 30,000 people a month were forced to flee their homes over fear of being attacked by armed groups. It is estimated that the number of displaced individuals will grow from 560,000 in 2019 to 900,000 by the middle of 2020. Likewise, 1.5 million people required humanitarian assistance in 2019, with the figure expected to jump to 2.2 million in 2020.
Drought, flooding, the conflict between ethnic groups, and mass population migrations are just some of the issues the land-locked country faced in 2019. Just over 31% of the population drinks dirty water daily, while nearly a quarter of the population practices open defecation.
Almost 8 million people are severely malnourished — the majority of whom are pregnant women, young children, and the elderly.
Lake Chad Basin
The Lake Chad Basin is an area encompassing areas of Nigeria, Niger, Chad, and Cameroon.
A decade of hunger and violence and a depletion of water levels in the lake — as a consequence of climate change and exploitation — has caused a severe humanitarian crisis that has left nearly 10 million people in need of assistance. The area is known to be increasingly dangerous for aid workers, making development assistance and accurate global reporting difficult.