The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is once again the world’s most neglected displacement crisis according to the Norwegian Refugee Council’s (NRC) annual analysis. For the first time, the top 10 list is comprised entirely of African countries.
The annual list of neglected displacement crises is based on three criteria: lack of funding, lack of media attention, and lack of international political and diplomatic initiatives. The DRC is followed by Burkina Faso, Cameroon and South Sudan on top of the bleak ranking.
“That the world’s most neglected crises are all in Africa points to the chronic failure of decision makers, donors and the media to address conflict and human suffering on this continent,” said Jan Egeland, Secretary General of the Norwegian Refugee Council, launching the report today. “With the all-absorbing war in Europe’s Ukraine, I fear African suffering will be pushed further into the shadows.”
“DRC has become a textbook example of neglect. It is one of the worst humanitarian crises of this century, yet those inside and outside of Africa with power to create change are closing their eyes to the waves of brutal and targeted attacks on civilians that shatter communities.”
The north-east of the DRC has been plagued by intercommunal tensions and conflict, with a dramatic increase in attacks on displacement camps since November 2021. 5.5 million people are now displaced within the country and food insecurity has reached the highest level ever recorded, with a third of the population going hungry.
“I can’t plan for my children’s future, there is nothing beyond finding food each day. The world doesn’t know how we suffer here,” said a 37-year-old mother in Ituri province, DRC. Five of her family members were killed in a massacre and her house was burned to the ground.
The aid provided to DRC last year equalled less than one US dollar a week per person in need, and the humanitarian appeal was less than half funded, leaving aid workers with impossible decisions as to what and whom to prioritise. In comparison, the Ukraine humanitarian appeal launched 1 March was almost fully funded the very same day.
Despite a large spike in people fleeing their homes in Burkina Faso in 2021, the displacement crisis received substantially less media coverage during the whole year than the average amount the war in Ukraine received each day during the first three months of the conflict.
“The war in Ukraine has demonstrated the immense gap between what is possible when the international community rallies behind a crisis, and the daily reality for millions of people suffering in silence within these crises on the African continent that the world has chosen to ignore,” said Egeland.
“It is not only unjust – this bias also comes with a tremendous cost. Lives that could have been saved are lost. Conflicts are being allowed to become protracted crises and devastate the hopes of generations of people for a better future.”
Hunger levels are on the rise in most of the countries on the neglected crises list. The already severe food security situation has been compounded by rising wheat and fuel prices caused by the war in Ukraine. In addition, several donor countries are now deciding or considering to cut back on aid to Africa, and to redirect funding towards the Ukraine response and reception of refugees at home instead.
“The speed at which the UN, the EU and other international partners acted in response to the war in Ukraine should inspire the same urgency for solutions and support to the most neglected crises of our time.”
Facts and figures:
- Each year, the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) publishes a list of the ten most neglected displacement crises in the world. The purpose is to focus on the plight of people whose suffering rarely makes international headlines, who receive no or inadequate assistance, and who never become the centre of attention for international diplomacy efforts.
- The neglected displacement crises list for 2021 analyses 41 displacement crises based on three criteria: lack of funding, lack of media attention, and lack of international political and diplomatic initiatives.
- The full list in order this year is: DR Congo, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, South Sudan, Chad, Mali, Sudan, Nigeria, Burundi, and Ethiopia.
- DR Congo is a textbook example of a neglected crisis and scores high on all three criteria. It has topped the list two times before (2020 and 2017). It ranked second on the list in 2019, 2018 and 2016.
- The total funding to the DR Congo humanitarian response plan was $876 million in 2021, of the $1.98 billion requested.
- In 2021, 19.6 million people were in need of humanitarian assistance in DRC.
- At the end of 2021, 5.5 million people were internally displaced in DRC (IDMC) and a further one million Congolese were refugees outside the country (UNHCR).
- More than half a million people were forced to flee their homes in Burkina Faso last year, bringing the total number of internally displaced to 1.75 million (CONASUR).
- An average of around 85,000 articles in English per day were written about the crisis in Ukraine during the first three months of the war. As a comparison, there were a total of 27,000 English articles written about the displacement crisis in Burkina Faso during the whole of 2021 (Source: Meltwater).
- The full report is available here.
Source: Norwegian Refugee Council