By Akanimo Sampson
FOR a third year in a row, African countries are still topping the Norwegian Refugee Council’s annual list of neglected displacement crises.
The Norwegian Refugee Council’s annual list is based on three criteria: lack of funding, dearth of media attention and political and diplomatic neglect.
The Democratic Republic of the Congo and South Sudan are followed by the Central African Republic, Burundi, Ethiopia, Palestine, Myanmar, Yemen, Venezuela and Nigeria at this year’s list.
According to the Council, 2017 saw a rapid deterioration of several crises on the African continent. Although the situation in the Central African Republic, which topped last year’s neglected displacement crises list, has in fact worsened, the outbreak of new conflicts in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and a rapidly worsening humanitarian situation in South Sudan led to reshuffling at the top of this sad list.
Secretary General of the Norwegian Refugee Council, Jan Egeland said, ‘’the crises on the African continent seldom make media headlines or reach foreign policy agendas before it is too late.
‘’The price is paid by mothers not being able to feed their children, youth being deprived from education and entire nations becoming dependent on emergency aid. Such catastrophic political, diplomatic and humanitarian neglect must end’’.
Adding, Egeland said, ‘’most people would be surprised to learn that the number of people in need of humanitarian assistance in DR Congo now has reached the same level as in Syria. Still, the world’s attention on these two crises are miles apart’’.
After his visit to South Sudan, which is number two at the list, he said: ‘’It is utterly appalling to see this young nation continuing its free fall towards a catastrophe. Seven out of ten people do not know if and when they will have their next meal. We cannot continue closing our eyes to an entire nation starving, because men with guns and power are not willing to make peace with each other.
‘’There seems to be little willingness, both locally and internationally, to find a way out of too many of these crises. In some places, this is due to a lack of geo-political importance, while in other places there are too many partiers and actors with conflicting interests, and too few willing to protect the interests of the civilians’’.
Several of the crises on the list have been raging for years and even decades, leading to multiple displacements of people. It is also increasingly difficult to attract necessary funding for the most protracted and least prioritised crises.
‘’We need to ensure that humanitarian assistance is given based on needs, and needs alone. Sadly, the reality is that people affected by crises that are neglected by the public, the media and the politicians, end up receiving less humanitarian relief.
‘’The list should serve as a reminder, both for us as humanitarian organisations, for the media and for politicians. The fact that we do not see these people suffer, does not make their suffering any less real, and it does not absolve us from our responsibility to act’’, Egeland said.