Geographies in Depth

Six of the world's most neglected crises are in Africa

A man carries a bag of food aid at the Kakuma refugee camp in northern Kenya, March 6, 2018. Picture taken March 6, 2018. REUTERS/Baz Ratner

Although recent conflicts in other areas of the world have been more bloody, conflicts in Africa are often the most neglected on the international stage. Image: REUTERS/Baz Ratner

Nita Bhalla
Journalist, Thomson Reuters Foundation
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Six of the world's 10 most neglected crises are in Africa, where conflict has uprooted millions of people, the Norwegian Refugee Council said on Thursday, attributing the continent's dominance to a lack of media attention, aid and political will.

Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), where years of civil war have led more than 5 million people to flee their homes, topped the NRC's annual list this year. South Sudan, Burundi, Ethiopia, Central African Republic and Nigeria also featured.

NRC Secretary General Jan Egeland said while Syria is the bloodiest war in the world with millions displaced over the last eight years, it is not considered to be among the most neglected crises as it is receiving global attention.

Conflicts in Africa, he said, were viewed differently.

"Many displaced from these countries do not end up as refugees in the Mediterranean, and are not visible for us in the north - so these crises get too little diplomatic and media attention," Egeland told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

"Also, some of these conflicts are so protracted - there has been a humanitarian crisis in one way or the other in South Sudan for the last 30 years. So we have to fight this sense of hopelessness. It can change, and it must change."

Other countries on the list were Venezuela, Myanmar and Yemen, while the Palestinian territories also featured.

Over 65 million people globally have been uprooted from their homes and forced to seek safety and shelter elsewhere - either inside their countries or as refugees in foreign nations - largely due to violence, says the United Nations.

The global refugee crisis has reached a tipping point. Image: UNHCR

The U.N. Refugee Agency (UNHCR) said Syria had the most displaced people in 2016, with Colombia, Afghanistan and Iraq also recording large numbers. None of these countries were featured on the list of most neglected displacement crises.

The NRC examined 24 crises across the world in 2017 and established the list based on the level of political will - between locally armed parties as well as international efforts - such as peace-making efforts to resolve the conflict.

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It also monitored the amount of coverage given to the crises by local and foreign media, and examined the amount of humanitarian aid being available by international donors to meet the needs of people who are driven from their homes.

Egeland said the price of neglecting the crises in Africa was being paid by mothers unable to feed their children, youth deprived of education and entire nations becoming increasingly dependent on emergency aid.

Matthew Clancy, humanitarian policy spokesman for the International Committee of the Red Cross, agreed with the list's findings and said it was no coincidence most of the countries on the list were affected by conflict.

"While natural disasters often trigger international media attention and funding, protracted conflicts like the Democratic Republic of Congo rarely make the headlines," he said.

"They are neglected by the international community, despite the fact that violence is fueling a massive humanitarian crisis in which millions are uprooted from their homes."

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Geographies in DepthResilience, Peace and Security
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