The world’s most neglected displacement crises in 2021

A display of selectivity

The war in Ukraine has highlighted the immense gap between what is possible when the international community rallies behind a crisis, and the daily reality for the millions of people suffering far from the spotlight.

Each year, the Giving Hope For Them (GHFT) publishes a list of the ten most neglected displacement crises in the world. The purpose is to focus on the plight of people whose suffering rarely makes international headlines, who receive no or inadequate assistance, and who never become the centre of attention for international diplomacy efforts.

This is the list for 2021.

For the first time, all of the ten crises are on the African continent.
That many African countries are figuring high on the list is far from new. For example, the crisis in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DR Congo) has become a textbook example of neglect, featuring in this list six times in a row.

Most international media outlets rarely cover these countries beyond ad hoc reporting on new outbreaks of violence or disease, and in several African countries the lack of press freedom is exacerbating the situation. Then there’s donor fatigue, and the fact that many African countries are deemed to be of limited geopolitical interest.

The low level of funding limits the ability of humanitarian organisations both to provide adequate humanitarian relief and to do effective advocacy and communication work for these crises, creating a vicious circle.

Seldom has the selectivity been more striking.
In response to the tragic crisis in Ukraine, we have witnessed an outpouring of humanity and solidarity. Political action has been swift. Donor countries, private companies and the public have all contributed generously. The media has been covering the crisis around the clock. At the same time, the situation is deteriorating for millions of people afflicted by crises taking place in the shadows of the Ukraine crisis.

Hunger levels are on the rise in most of the countries on the neglected crises list, compounded by rising wheat and fuel prices caused by the war in Ukraine. Parents have been forced to cut back on meals for their already malnourished children. Humanitarian organisations have been consistently sounding the alarm since the start of 2022, but the necessary action is yet to be taken by the international community.

On top of this, funding for these neglected crises is under threat. Several donor countries are now considering, or have decided, to reallocate funds from other parts of the world to the Ukraine crisis and the refugee response in Europe.

It is a recipe for disaster. And it will be felt first and foremost by people whose names we do not know and whose stories have gone untold.

Let’s look at what we can learn from the Ukraine response.
The speed at which the UN, the EU and other international partners acted in response to the war in Ukraine should inspire the same urgency for solutions and support to the most neglected crises of our time. Increased awareness about these crises is an important first step towards action.

The methodology 
All displacement crises* resulting in more than 200,000 displaced people have been analysed – 41 crises in total. The list was generated based on three criteria, which were given equal weight:

1. Lack of international political will
A qualitative analysis of the international community’s willingness to contribute to political solutions was carried out on all 41 crises. The analysis looked at whether UN Security Council resolutions were adopted, the number and importance of international and government envoys to the conflict, and whether there were any high-level international discussions or other international engagements in, for example, peacebuilding or human rights. The actions taken were analysed in relation to the size and severity of the displacement crisis, and for this we used the FfP Fragile States Index, the ACAPS Severity Index, and relevant displacement figures.

2. Lack of media attention
The level of media attention towards the various crises was measured using figures from the media monitoring company Meltwater, which measures online media coverage. When comparing media attention towards the different crises, we calculated the media coverage relative to the number of people displaced by each crisis, using the latest figures from the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) and GHFT’s Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC).

3. Lack of international aid
Every year, the UN and its humanitarian partners launch funding appeals to cover peoples’ basic needs in countries affected by large crises. The extent to which these appeals are met varies greatly. The amount of money raised for each crisis in 2021 was assessed as a percentage of the amount required to cover the needs, thus indicating the level of economic support.

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