Conflict in Cameroon took the top spot in the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC)’s annual list of the world’s 10 most neglected displacement crises, published on June 5.
The list was determined based on an analysis of 36 crises that caused the displacement of more than 200,000 people in 2018 in three categories: lack of economic support, lack of media attention, and political neglect. Cameroon scored highly in all three categories. Seven of the top 10 crises plague African countries, including DR Congo, Central African Republic, Burundi, Mali, Libya, and Ethiopia.
"Humanitarian assistance should be given based on needs, and needs alone," Jan Egeland, secretary-general of the NRC, said in a statement. "However, every day millions of displaced people are neglected because they have been struck by the wrong crisis and the dollars have dried up."
According to a UN Refugee Agency report, 2017 saw a record of 68.5 million displaced people.
Other countries high on this year’s list are Ukraine, Venezuela, and Palestine.
The conflict stems from the colonial divide created after World War I, as the country was split between French and British rule. Though French and English are both designated national languages, there have been reports of sentiments of increased marginalization among the English-speaking population.
The crisis began in 2016 with peaceful protests that evolved into a violent confrontation between the military and armed civilian groups in the English-speaking region of Cameroon. Both parties have been suspected of committing major human rights violations. The violence has caused the destruction of hundreds of villages, attacks on hospitals and health workers, and the closing of schools, leaving 800,000 children without formal education.
There has been little intervention from other countries, as well as a lack of media attention and monetary aid from humanitarian groups for Cameroon’s vulnerable people.
“The international community is asleep at the wheel when it comes to the crisis in Cameroon. Brutal killings, burned-down villages and massive displacement have been met with deafening silence,” Egeland said.
Armed conflict has also contributed to the humanitarian crisis in the Congo, and the Ebola outbreak rocked the country last year. More than 1 million displaced people have since been able to return to their home regions, but starvation spiked 70% between 2017 and 2018, while 770,000 continue to be affected by malnutrition. A lack of funding and attention contribute to the ongoing crisis.
In the Central African Republic, violence between armed groups and criminal activity have been on the rise, driving a quarter of the population into displacement. In the country with a population of 4.6 million people, it has become increasingly difficult for the 2.9 million people in need to be assisted, as a number of agencies have been forced to cease their aid due to the highest number of recorded attacks on aid workers in the region. While a peace deal was signed in February, experts believe the fighting will continue.
“This depressing list must serve as a wake-up call for all of us. Only by drawing attention to these crises, learning about them and placing them high on the international agenda, can we achieve much needed change,” Egeland said.
Here are the top 10 most neglected displacement crises in 2018:
- DR Congo
- Central African Republic