The humanitarian crises you probably haven’t heard of

By CARE Australia February 22, 2019 0 comments

Aid organisation CARE International has released its annual Suffering in Silence report, highlighting the 10 most under-reported humanitarian crises of the past year.

Hunger and food insecurity dominate the list, with Haiti’s food crisis receiving the least international media coverage of the crises monitored by the report authors.

While the 2010 earthquake that killed more than 220,000 people in the Caribbean nation made global headlines, the current food crisis has barely received international coverage.

This is despite more than one in two Haitians – or 5.5 million people – facing the threat of hunger, and 22 per cent of Haitian children being chronically malnourished.

CARE Australia’s Emergency Response Manager, Stefan Knollmayer, said the report highlighted the difficulty aid agencies face in bringing attention to complex crises that can be slow to develop.

“The world’s attention is fairly easily captured by a natural disaster, but when human suffering has multiple causes it can be harder to tell the story,” Mr Knollmayer said.

“Most of the food crises on the list are caused by a combination of natural and human-made factors, including droughts, wars, fragile economies and the effects of climate change.”

Closer to home, some natural disasters are also slipping under the global radar.

Typhoon Mangkhut, which displaced more than 1 million people in the Philippines after it hit in September 2018, received the sixth least international news coverage.

The report was informed by exclusive research for CARE International which monitored more than 1.1 million global online news sources throughout 2018.

The research focussed on humanitarian crises affecting at least 1 million people – according to data from the UN and other international sources – of which more than 30 were identified.

Of the 10 crises that received the least coverage, eight are happening in Africa, with food and health crises compounded by violent conflict in most cases.

Stefan Knollmayer said it was often difficult or unsafe for international media to get access to conflict zones such as the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), which sits at number five on the list.

“As a result, Australians are not only hearing very little about the conflict, but they’ve also heard very little about the new Ebola outbreak that has killed 500 people in the DRC since August 2018.”

“But it’s important they do, because with the right humanitarian response, much of the human suffering detailed in this report is able to be minimised or prevented.”

Speaking from Geneva, CARE International’s Secretary General Caroline Kende-Robb said media coverage has always been a strong driver of aid funding and political pressure.

“With dwindling international coverage, under-reported crises are at risk of falling completely off the radar,” Ms Kende-Robb said.

“Media outlets, politicians, states and aid agencies need to join forces to find innovative ways to draw public attention to humanitarian needs.”

For interviews with CARE spokespeople in Australia or countries featured in the report, please contact Iona Salter on 0419 567 777 or email iona.salter@care.org.au

The 10 most under-reported humanitarian crises of 2018

  1. Haiti: On the edge of survival
  2. Ethiopia: Hungry and forgotten
  3. Madagascar: On the frontline of climate change
  4. Democratic Republic of Congo: A vicious cycle of violence, disease and malnutrition
  5. Philippines: A destructive typhoon in the shadows of many
  6. Chad: An island of stability in the Sahel, struggling to meet all needs
  7. Ethiopia: The silent displacement of 1 million people
  8. Niger: Where the poor share their meals with the poorer
  9. Central African Republic: In the heart of Africa but off the radar
  10. Sudan: More than a decade of hunger and war

About the methodology

From 1 January to 28 November 2018, CARE monitored more than 1.1. million online media sources in English, French and German using the media monitoring services of the Meltwater Group. To filter according to scale, the humanitarian crises monitored were those that affected at least 1 million people according to data from UNOCHA, ACAPS and CARE’s own statistics. As a result, more than 30 crises were included in the analysis. Suffering In Silence ranks the crises that received the least media coverage from the sources monitored.

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