The ten humanitarian crises being overshadowed by Ukraine
With much of the global media’s attention focused on the conflict in Ukraine, there is a danger that other humanitarian crises across the world are forgotten.
And ironically, the economic impacts of the Russian invasion are exacerbating an unprecedented number of emergencies around the globe where the gap between humanitarian funding and soaring emergency aid needs already at record levels.
iMPACT Magazine takes a look at the other ten current major humanitarian crises.
An economic collapse in the wake of the Taliban’s return to power, drought and the COVID-19 pandemic in Afghanistan has pushed more than 20 million people into food insecurity.
Five and a half million people internally displaced – roughly the population of Finland – including more than 670,000 forced to leave their homes so far this year, 60 per cent of whom are children.
The UN says aid and support is needed for mobile populations, including internally displaced people, returnees and under-served host communities.
More than half the population, or nearly 19 million people, are struggling to eat, malnutrition is reaching dramatic levels, especially for many children, and more than 80 per cent of the people surveyed by the UN say they have lost their jobs and livelihoods.
Millions are living in inadequate shelters with limited access to basic services, including sanitation and health care,
The mainly Western nations that backed the deposed Afghan government have taken recent small steps to restore frozen development funds and remove anti-Taliban sanctions. But observers say the main problem remains is that governments don’t have a clear plan to deal with the Taliban, and that is exacerbating the humanitarian emergency.
The people of the Democratic Republic of Congo are suffering from the impact of one of the most complex and longest humanitarian crises.
Almost 20 million people are acutely food insecure in a country that has been dealing with the fallout of conflicts, epidemics such as Ebola, and natural disasters that have driven people out of their homes. More than 3 million children are acutely malnourished.
In 2019, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) was hit by a perfect storm of disease and violence. With fresh conflicts raging and Ebola outbreaks continuing, the DRC will continue to suffer from one of the world’s longest-running humanitarian crises.
The second-deadliest Ebola epidemic in history was front and centre in reporting of the DRC but there were other crises. In the north-eastern province of Ituri, around 300,000 people were displaced by conflict that few understand and hundreds of thousands more were uprooted in remote areas of the South Kivu highlands.
A measles epidemic took more than 5,000 lives, while more than 470 people died of Cholera.
More than 25 million people, nine million of them in the north of the country, are in need of emergency humanitarian aid, according to the United Nations.
This is the result of drought and a civil conflict that has spawned fears of widespread famine and barriers to the delivery of aid.
Civil war broke out in November 2020 in the northern Tigray region before spreading to other regions. Tens of thousands of people have fled to Sudan, while Eritrea has sent troops to support the Ethiopian government.
There have been reports of mass killings, rape and torture committed by both sides.
The conflict began as a political squabble between the Addis Ababa government and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), which dominated Ethiopia’s national politics for decades until Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed took office in 2018.
Despite a reduction in large-scale fighting since December – when the rebels were repulsed from an advance on the capital, there has been little progress in resolving the conflict.
Recently there has been fighting between Tigrayan forces and militias from the Afar region with both sides blaming each other for the violence.
Meanwhile, millions of people in Tigray are susceptible to by famine as aid groups struggle to deliver aid.
Since a massive earthquake struck in 2010 Haiti has been struggling with multiple crises at the same time. Natural disasters have been exacerbated by political and economic turmoil and a worsening security situation leaving four million Haitians in need of food aid.
Gang violence and kidnappings have risen since a coup and the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse in July 2021.
The violence has paralysed the nation, displacing around 19,000 people and contributing to school and hospital closures.
It has also led to food and fuel shortages and stopped aid delivery, especially in the country’s south where up to 300,000 were killed and hundreds of thousands more left homeless by another earthquake last August.
Horn of Africa
The worst drought in 40 years has pushed around 13 million people in the Horn of Africa into hunger.
Three years without rain has seen crops fail and livestock die, upon which local populations depend.
This year’s rains appear to have failed to arrive again and temperatures are at record highs, meaning the number of people in need of aid could reach 20 million.
Somalia, the worst-affected country, has 4.3 million people suffering hunger. In Ethiopia, the drought is exacerbating the humanitarian emergency caused by the war in Tigray.
In Kenya, the loss of cattle has triggered clashes between neighbouring communities.
Aid agencies have warned that a post drought recovery will be slow with wheat and fertiliser prices rising because of the conflict in Ukraine.
Europe’s hard line border policies have contributed to the deaths and abuse of migrants seeking to enter.
More than 2000 people drowned or disappeared attempting to cross the Mediterranean Sea last year and 35,000 were intercepted by the Libyan coastguard and returned to Africa. Reports say Greek authorities pushed thousands of migrants back into the sea or across the country’s land border with Turkey.
The Mediterranean migration crisis began to capture global attention in 2014 as the number of people crossing the sea to seek refuge in Europe began to spike, mainly driven by Syrians, Iraqis and Afghans escaping their countries’ civil wars as well as Eritreans fleeing political repression and a brutal military regime.
In 2014, Libya was the main departure point, but by 2015, the main route to Europe shifted to the Aegean Sea. More than one million people crossed from Turkey to Greece between January that year and March 2016, with most trekking across the Balkans to reach Germany and other Western European countries.
The movement touched off a populist backlash, and initial sympathy for those seeking refuge and outrage at the deaths on Europe’s doorstep was quickly drowned out. EU countries began signing agreements with countries around the bloc’s periphery and providing them with funding in order for them to clamp down on migration.
Refugee activist groups say that although the numbers of people crossing the Mediterranean has fallen from the 2015 peak, the level of suffering at the EU’s external borders has increased.
They say countries across Europe are routinely pushing refugees, asylum seekers, and migrants back from their borders even though the practice is illegal under international law. And that the EU is providing equipment and funding to the Libyan Coast Guard despite its history of abuse of migrants.
More than 14 million people in Myanmar are now in need of humanitarian aid following the 2021 military coup, according to the UN.
At least 500,000 people have been displaced since the coup and poverty levels are the worst in years with the quarter of the population is food insecure.
Furthermore, deadly new conflicts have spread across the country with the military launched airstrikes and artillery attacks against a new wave of anti-coup militias, many of them targeted at civilians.
Hunger is also rising in agricultural areas where the post-coup economic situation has meant farmers cannot afford to plant crops.
The Sahel is an area of central north-west Africa. Across some of the countries in the region jihadist insurgencies and political turmoil have seen almost 15 million people fall into humanitarian need.
The countries of Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger have been particularly impacted with humanitarian needs increasing.
With jihadist groups linked to al-Qaeda and the so-called Islamic State have been gaining ground over the past ten years, drought and COVID-19 have made matters worse.
The Sahel’s security crisis is, in turn, driving political upheaval. Earlier this year, troops ousted Burkina Faso’s president, Roch Kaboré, whose administration failed to contain the security issues that had displaced 1.5 million people.
Relations have also soured between Mali’s military government and former colonial power France, The French are withdrawing troops from the country while Mali’s
Aid agencies have been calling on governments in the region to begin talks with the jihadist groups and there are signs this may happen.
Sri Lanka is currently experiencing its worst economic crisis in history. With long lines for fuel, cooking gas, essentials in short supply and long hours of power cuts the public has been suffering for weeks.
A national debt crisis has led to cuts to power and critical shortages of food and medicines.
President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has declared a nationwide emergency amid a spate of deadly protests.
A national debt crisis has led to cuts to power and critical shortages of food and medicines and supplies,
Doctors have been forced to treat patients in the dark, cancel routine surgeries, and forgo many laboratory tests. Without governmental action and the replenishment of drugs and supplies, health workers warn that many will die.
More than 20 million people, or two thirds of the population of Yemen, are now impacted or in need of aid after seven years of civil war in the Arabian Peninsula nation.
Food and fuel shortages are growing and four million people are now displaced.
Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates lead an international coalition that backs the internationally recognised Yemeni government in its fight against Houthi rebels, in turn backed by Iran.
The Houthis now control much of Yemen’s north, including the capital city of Sana’a, and forces allied with the government rule the south, including the port city of Aden.
For a year, there has been bitter fighting around the strategic central Yemeni province and city of Marib, forcing more than 60,000 people from their homes.
The Yemeni economy has collapsed, creating a food crisis affecting millions. High fuel prices have made getting to a hospital impossible for many and about half of the nation’s clinics and hospitals have closed.
As with other countries in the Middle East and Africa, Yemen’s hunger crisis could be worsened by the conflict in Ukraine.
And delivering aid in Yemen is problematic because of barriers created by the various combatants the war as well as a lack of funding.