Countries Facing Humanitarian Deterioration in 2023
The International Rescue Committee is out with its annual "Emergency Watchlist" of countries experiencing humanitarian crises, with Somalia and Ethiopia topping the list of nations at highest risk of deteriorating in 2023. Both countries are located in the Horn of Africa and have been ravaged by drought and conflict.
Afghanistan ranked third on the list, where 97% of the population is at risk of poverty. Food insecurity, economic turmoil, conflict, and climate change are other factors impacting everyday life in Afghanistan. The other countries making up the IRC's top ten list are the Democratic Republic of Congo, Yemen, Syria, South Sudan, Burkina Faso, Haiti, and Ukraine.
The top 20 countries at greatest risk of worsening crisis, according to the report, are home to 80% of the people dealing with severe food insecurity around the world, while they account for only 13% of the world’s population.
Based on the report’s findings, the accelerators weakening the guardrails designed to protect against such humanitarian catastrophes include conflict, climate challenges, as well as worsening economic crisis.
According to the IRC’s report, the humanitarian crisis in these watchlist countries accounts for only 1% of the media coverage in top tier publications. So why does the world not seem to care?
A closer examination of the three countries topping the list:
Somalia is facing the combined effect of a two-year drought, conflict caused by an Islamist insurgency, and global food price inflation. All of which have been catastrophic for a country like Somalia. Watch the video for more:
A two-year civil war in Ethiopia between Tigrayan rebels and Ethiopia’s government has contributed to an estimated 20 million people in the country with food insecurity. A partial truce last month has improved humanitarian access to the Tigrayan region, raising hopes. The conflict has damaged hospitals and left water, electricity, and medicine in short supply, according to the International Committee of the Red Cross.
Climate challenges are compounding Afghanistan's extreme poverty crisis, bringing drought and violent flooding. Add poor infrastructure management to the mix and more than half the population in Afghanistan is now reliant on humanitarian aid. Women have been disproportionately impacted by the worsening crisis with the Taliban government’s discriminatory treatment of women and girls. Women in Afghanistan are left more vulnerable to gender-based violence, abuse, and exploitation.
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Why is the system failing?
According to the IRC’s report, such disasters continue to worsen in part because the system treats every crisis as a short-term issue and an exception. The IRC calls on countries to break this cycle by offering targeted interventions, investing in the front lines of humanitarian response, and assisting countries nationally to prevent them from further deterioration.