With Australia’s fires having rightly earnt headlines all around the world, new analysis from the aid agency CARE has revealed that many major disasters slipped under the global media radar last year.
CARE’s annual Suffering in Silence report has found nine of the 10 most under-reported humanitarian crises of 2019 are in Africa, many of which have been caused or worsened by climate change.
CARE Australia’s new CEO, Peter Walton, said most of the disasters featured in the report were uncharacteristically drawn-out.
“In many countries, climate change is making a constant state of crisis the new norm, often exacerbating other challenges. Sadly, Australia has experienced this too in recent months,” Mr Walton said.
“From bushfires to floods, droughts to cyclones, we’re increasingly seeing communities affected by one disaster after another and this is predicted to be a new norm.
“Most of the countries on this list are also affected by violent conflicts, which can be fuelled by dwindling natural resources or the impacts of a changing climate.”
CARE found the severe drought in the African island nation of Madagascar was the least-reported major humanitarian crisis of 2019.
Despite the nation’s reputation as a tropical paradise with amazing wildlife, drought has pushed food prices skywards and every second child under five is stunted from malnutrition.
“It’s important to shine a light on the stories that go untold, because there tends to be a strong link between media coverage and relief funding,” Mr Walton said.
The UN estimates there is a global humanitarian funding gap of $28.8 billion dollars.
Mr Walton said it was understandable for the media to focus on certain issues more than others, and it wasn’t a case of pointing fingers, but no one should be left behind.
“There are many talented and globally-minded journalists out there, but many challenges need to be overcome so a spotlight can be shone on areas where it is desperately needed.”
CARE’s report includes recommendations for media, governments and aid agencies to bring greater attention to little-known humanitarian emergencies.
“People everywhere deserve to have their stories told so they have a better chance of getting help and surviving.”
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Top 10 most under-reported humanitarian crises of 2019
- Madagascar: Drought and hunger
- Central African Republic: Conflict
- Zambia: Climate shocks
- Burundi: Complex crisis
- Eritrea: Drought and repression
- North Korea: Hidden hunger
- Kenya: Floods and droughts
- Burkina Faso: Conflict
- Ethiopia: Climate shocks and conflict
- Lake Chad Basin: Conflict and hunger
Using the media monitoring service Meltwater, CARE tracked media coverage of all humanitarian crises affecting at least 1 million people. Coverage was tracked between 1 January and 15 November 2019. More than 2.4 million online articles in English, French, German, Arabic and Spanish were included in the analysis. The crisis with the most coverage was the war in Syria.