Neglected - Unreported - Underfunded - Forgotten
Donating and paying attention are closely linked. Around the world, there are millions of people suffering, far from the limelight, hidden from the eyes of the global public. Many of these people are in urgent need of international support to survive. Forgotten crises are humanitarian emergencies that do not make the international headlines and do not attract enough political attention, so that the people affected receive no or insufficient aid. The crises usually have in common: lack of political will, lack of media attention, lack of international aid. DONARE wants to draw your attention to such forgotten crises.
Lack of political will and lack of media attention are mutually dependent. What is not covered in the news is rarely a priority of political leaders and donor countries. What is not represented by prominent politicians is rarely worth a headline. Especially when domestic issues dominate public discourse. Or when international humanitarian aid is played off against national needs of the electorate and even when humanitarian support is massively cut as a consequence. One can only imagine what such political action means for the forgotten crises of the world and the people who, through no fault of their own, have ended up in such a precarious situation.
And it is not only financial aid that is missing, but also the will to contribute to the resolution of conflicts that perpetuate a humanitarian emergency. Forgotten crises should become the focus of international diplomatic efforts. Those who have an understanding of the laws of media attention know how easily this could be changed. Prominent voices taking on an issue instantly change media coverage.
The lack of media attention, however, is the more pressing problem, at least in the short term, because it affects not only the behavior of donor countries, but also the willingness to donate of people in wealthy countries, who are able and often inclined to make major contributions if they were to learn more about the suffering and plight of those affected by war and displacement; to learn that these people and their plight exist at all.
Major natural disasters are regularly in the news. But numerous other crises remain invisible or disappear completely from the fog of the news at some point. Many humanitarian crises and their backgrounds are barely noticed by media outlets that have a strong reach, such as news agencies, the BBC, CNN or The Guardian, and pass unnoticed by most media consumers. It often remains a great mystery what goes on in editorial offices and editors-in-chief and how they arrive at their choice of topics. How often in a year are the conflicts and their consequences in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Somalia or the Central African Republic reported on? Or about the crises in Myanmar, Colombia or Haiti?
The only thing worse than little reporting is no reporting at all. Not a rarity. The media fail in their ambition to inform objectively and inclusively about the world. Moreover, it is frightening to see how monothematic international reporting usually is. COVID-19 dominated almost all news for two years, and now the coverage is dominated by Russia's war against Ukraine. Both important issues, no question. But it's just a tiny excerpt of what makes the world tick today.
Lack of international aid is the final blow. Without attention, without political will, without funds from public or private sources, people in need are left to fend for themselves. Many do not survive this struggle. Underfunding means that there is not enough government aid and donations to support people trapped in crisis situations. However, underfunded crises are not congruent with forgotten crises; underfunding can also exist in situations that take up space in the media, such as the crises in Yemen, Syria, Ethiopia or Afghanistan.
Once a year, the United Nations assesses humanitarian needs around the world and makes it transparent where funds are urgently needed and how much money is required. For humanitarian experts and political leaders, this means that it is usually clear or easy to find out what steps would be necessary to provide support to all people in great need. The UN's Global Humanitarian Overview (GHO) is a comprehensive and evidence-based assessment of humanitarian needs worldwide. Essentially, it is a snapshot of current and future trends in humanitarian action that serves a large-scale mobilization of resources. The global overview also covers forgotten crises.
The European Union (EU) is taking a similarly fact-based approach, which in turn is making efforts to identify which humanitarian crises qualify as forgotten crises. The EU is committed to standing alongside the most vulnerable people affected by forgotten crises. As a donor, the European Union allocates at least 15% of its annual humanitarian budget to such crises.
Most forgotten crises are currently located on the African continent, such as in Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mozambique, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, or Western Sahara, but can also be found in Latin America (Colombia, Venezuela), the Caribbean (Haiti) or Asia (Lebanon, Myanmar).
This compilation of countries or territories with 15 forgotten crises makes no claim to completeness and represents only a concise selection. Different criteria and focuses lead to divergent selections of about 15 to 25 crisis situations in the world, which unfortunately deserve the assessment.
For example, the European Union's list identified 15 forgotten crises for 2022/2023; the Norwegian Refugee Council's research focuses on the world's ten most neglected displacement crises in 2022; CARE International highlights the ten most underreported humanitarian crises of 2022. Concern Worldwide looks at six forgotten humanitarian crises in 2023. Regardless, forgotten crises exist and demand the world's attention.
And every individual can act to ensure that more support reaches the world's forgotten crises. You can find out more about forgotten crises from international non-governmental organizations and UN organizations, if you can't obtain information through the traditional media.
Your donation can help people suffering in forgotten crises. All the humanitarian organizations featured in Humanitarian Crisis Relief, Refugees and IDPs, Children in Need and Hunger and Food Insecurity are actively working in or even on the front lines of some of these forgotten crises.
You can also donate specifically for individual crises: Somalia Crisis, Crisis in the Central African Republic, South Sudan Crisis, Myanmar Crisis, Crisis in the Democratic Republic of Cong, Sahel Crisis, Sudan Crisis, Haiti Crisis, Burundi Crisis, Colombia Crisis, Mozambique Crisis, Venezuela Crisis, Lebanon Crisis, Western Sahara Crisis. Don't look away, donate today.
- CARE International: Breaking the Silence. The 10 most underreported humanitarian crises of 2022
- CARE International: The Most Under-Reported Humanitarian Crises of 2021 (PDF)
- Concern Worldwide US: Forgotten humanitarian crises
- International Rescue Committee (IRC): Emergency Watchlist Report 2023
- European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO): Forgotten Crises Factsheet
- German Federal Foreign Office: Forgotten crises: support for people in need
- Norwegian Refugee Council The world's most neglected displacement crises in 2022
- Norwegian Refugee Council: The world’s most neglected displacement crises in 2021
- The United Nations Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF)
- United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN OCHA): Global Humanitarian Overview