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Humanitarian crises

What the global public is missing

by Cema Tork

In brief

Women and children wait for water in Ethiopia during drought.

Women and children wait for water in Ethiopia during drought.

In a recently published report, Care International outlines ten humanitarian crises missed by the international media in 2018. While the world focused on Venezuela, North Korea and the Middle East, nine other countries went unnoticed. Journalists ignored ongoing troubles in Ethiopia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Sudan, for example. The report confirms trends reported by Germanwatch in the Global Climate Risk Index.

All but two of the crises listed by Care, the international humanitarian agency, are African. The report is based on an evaluation of 1.1 million online articles. The list includes the DRC, the Central African Republic, Ethiopia, Sudan, Philippines, Haiti, Chad, Niger, Madagascar. The crises do not necessarily affect the entire country. Ethiopia is listed twice, for displacement and hunger. Common themes in every country named are poverty, starvation and displacement. These hardships are often intertwined. Nearly every country listed has experienced natural disasters, drought and a decline in agricultural output.

In Haiti, the situation is worst. Ranked number one, Haiti is said to be “on the edge of survival”. Its food crisis, however, has received little international coverage. Half of the people live on less than the purchasing of one dollar per day, and 22 % of children in Haiti are chronically malnourished. Core challenges are extreme poverty and a lack of basic infrastructure, with frequent natural disasters threatening any progress made.

In many cases, climate change is part of the problem. Indeed, three of the nine countries have been named in the top ten of the Global Climate Risk Index (GCRI) between 1998 and 2017. It is compiled by Germanwatch, a Bonn-based civil-society organisation. Haiti is number four in the 2019 GCRI.

In the case of Madagascar in 2018, climate change contributed to severe crop damages. According to Care, it caused tensions within families and compounded problems like child marriage and domestic violence. Fewer children attend schools, moreover, as Madagascans struggle to feed them.

This is happening in other crisis countries too. They are suffering the impacts of climate change, which they, unlike prosperous nations, have done little to cause. Apart from supplying aid, Care considers it essential to raise awareness for these issues. The report lays out sensible steps for policymakers, aid agencies, journalists and consumers.


Links

Suffering in Silence: The 10 most under-reported humanitarian crises of 2018.
https://www.care-international.org/files/files/Report_Suffering_In_Silence_2018.pdf

Global Climate Risk Index 2019:
https://germanwatch.org/sites/germanwatch.org/files/Global%20Climate%20Risk%20Index%202019_2.pdf

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