The 10 most neglected displacement crises of 2017
Each year the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) releases a list of the ten most neglected displacement crises. The report focuses on crises which have received a lack of attention from the international community and seeks to raise awareness of them to drive action.
The report highlights how crises can become neglected when the countries they are in are of little geopolitical interest, those affected are difficult to identify with or because of donor fatigue.
The new list is based on an analysis of 24 large displacement crises in 2017. The level of neglect a crisis experienced is based on a lack of political will, a lack of media attention and a lack of economic support.
The top 10 most neglected displacement crises of 2017 are:
1. The Democratic Republic of the Congo
The amount of people displaced in the DRC is the largest number the country has ever experienced and it one of the world’s most critical and complex crises.
By the end of 2017 4.5 million people were internally displaced and a further 700,000 had fled to neighbouring countries.
The crisis in DRC is characterised by violence, disease and malnourishment. Approximately 8.9 million lack access to food and water and 2.2 million children suffer from acute malnutrition.
The report highlights how the crisis in the DRC has received a limited amount of attention due to a prolonged period of conflict that has gradually received less coverage.
The crisis in DRC is considered as severe as Syria, Yemen and Iraq but there is a significant disparity in funding, with the DRC receiving just 57% of the funding it requires.
In 2018, the UN launched its largest ever appeal for the DRC for $1.680 billion to support 10.5 million people.
2. South Sudan
South Sudan has been suffering from civil war for 5 years and this has created an extremely serious and worsening humanitarian crisis. Currently, over half of the population rely on aid for survival and one in three people have fled their homes due to violence.
Over 2.4 million South Sudanese people have fled the country in neighbouring Sudan, Uganda and Ethiopia.
Although humanitarian agencies successfully averted a famine in 2017 the levels of hunger have been worsening with over 5 million people now suffering from food insecurity and the threat of famine is growing once again.
Women and children have been hit notably hard by the crises, with half of all under-fives being acutely malnourished and 2 million women and girls at risk of gender-based violence.
Delivering aid to the country has become increasingly dangerous and laws that ban journalists from entering the country have contributed to declining global attention for the crisis.
3. Central African Republic
CAR was the most neglected crisis of 2016, and its place as the third most neglected crisis this year is due to the worsening situations in DRC and South Sudan rather than an improvement in CAR.
For six years CAR has been suffering a violent conflict between different religious groups and thousands have been forced to flee their homes.
The number of people who are internally displaced in CAR increased by 70% in 2017 due to an escalation in conflict in the east of the country. In total, 1.2 million people from CAR are displaced this is equal to 25% of the population.
Over 400,000 people have fled Burundi since 2015 due to political unrest and a humanitarian crisis, with the number of refugees increasing by 20% last year.
A large number of those have fled to Tanzania, Rwanda, Uganda and DRC where they are living in overcrowded camps in poor conditions.
The refugee response plan was severely underfunded in 2017 and the World Food Programme was forced to cut its food rations in the region.
Despite the worsening political situation in Burundi, the media coverage the crisis has received is minimal and there are very few initiatives to protect civilians.
In total, one in four people do not have sufficient food and 3.5 million need assistance.
Drought and conflict forced over one million out of their homes last year in Ethiopia and surging levels of insecurity has displaced a further 700,000.
In 2017 Ethiopia suffered its worst drought for 30 years due to multiple failed rains which left thousands displaced and destitute. Many families have been affected by both the drought and the conflict.
By the end of 2017 only 46% of the aid appeal for Ethiopia had been funded with only $645 million of the $1.4 billion needed raised. The lack of funding has significantly affected the capacity of aid agencies and has limited the response.
Although the government successfully avoided a famine in 2017 more support will be needed in 2018 as food insecurity has continued and 7 million people are suffering from water and food shortages.
Palestinians have been suffering from displacement for 70 years and it is one of the world’s most protracted and neglected crises.
Although the crisis receives much political attention and numerous efforts have been made to improve the situation there is a lack of political will to solve the crisis. This is largely due to Israel not discussing the Palestinian refugees’ right to return.
There are over 5 million Palestinian registered refugees, many of them live in neighbouring Jordan and Lebanon, with over 1 million in Gaza.
Gaza suffers from poor living conditions due to a blockade which has been in place for over 10 years, 84% of the population in Gaza is desperately in need of humanitarian assistance but last year less than 50% of the funding was secured.
The blockade and prolonged conflict has also had devastating psychological effects, notably on children.
The US has cut funding for the UNRWA, a UN relief agency for Palestine, which will worsen the situation.
In August 2017 conflict escalated in Myanmar’s Rakhine State which forced over 700,000 into neighbouring Bangladesh. The majority of those displaced are Rohingya Muslims who have fled violence and persecution.
Currently, over one million Rohingya refugees are living in Bangladesh in camps that are highly vulnerable to flooding and landslides.
The lack of permissions from Myanmar authorities for humanitarian agencies to work in the country has left many vulnerable people without support. Similarly, there are strict rules on journalists entering Rahkine state.
Yemen has been suffering from a war for three years which has caused severe suffering that has left many starving and ill.
In 2015 conflict in the country escalated and the violence that followed has killed thousands of people.
Over half of the population is without access to basic healthcare, education, safe water or sanitation and the poor living conditions have led to the largest outbreak of cholera in decades.
The Saudi-led coalition blocked Yemen’s air and see ports in 2017 which blocked all food, fuel and medicine imports for several weeks and ongoing obstructions have led to food shortages and price hikes.
The media have struggled to cover the sheer scale of the crisis in Yemen due to restricted access as journalists have been blocked from entering the country and Yemeni journalists are tightly controlled.
For many in Yemen humanitarian aid is the only means of survival.
In 2017, 1.6 million Venezuelans left the country, while not all left as refugees there has been a sharp increase in those seeking asylum.
Those displaced are in serious need of food, water, medicine, shelter and protection. The crisis has also impacted neighbouring countries and risks destabilising a fragile situation in Colombia.
While there is no humanitarian appeal for Venezuela the support for host countries must be scaled up to ensure that people receive the necessary assistance. In 2018 an appeal for $102 million was launched to respond to the influx of Venezuelan refugees in Colombia.
Those who have left Venezuela are also vulnerable to labour and sexual exploitation.
The situation has received a limited amount of media attention outside of the region and there has been a limited international response to the crisis.
Nigeria’s displacement crisis has been driven largely by conflict between the Nigerian Armed Forces and Boko Haram which has escalated in recent months.
In total 1.7 million Nigerians have been internally displaced and 200,000 were living as refugees in neighbouring countries by the end of 2017. A study conducted by NRC in 2017 found 86% of people were not ready to return home.
Where conflict is severe the public services have collapsed with schools, hospitals and water supplies being destroyed.
Last year 8.5 million people in Nigeria were in need of humanitarian assistance and 450,000 children were suffering from severe acute malnutrition.
Although the conflict has received media attention it has been focused primarily on security and not the high level of displacement that has occurred.
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Image credit: NRC