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Humanitarian Emergencies

A Spotlight on those Suffering in Silence

In Haiti, more than half of the population of Haiti face hunger while 22 percent of children are chronically malnourished. Credit: Valeria Vilardo/IPS

UNITED NATIONS, Feb 23 2019 (IPS) - While news of political scandals and tweets may inundate social media feeds, numerous humanitarian crises have slipped under the radar, leaving victims “suffering in silence.”

In a new report, humanitarian organisation CARE shines a spotlight on global crises that have been neglected—a neglect that has led to dire consequences.

“We see more and more complex and chronic crises competing for public attention,” said CARE International’s Secretary General Caroline Kende-Robb.

“Media coverage has always been a strong driver of funding for crises as well as creating political pressure to protect those in need. With dwindling international coverage, under-reported crises are at a risk of falling completely off the radar,” she added.

In a recent survey by the Aurora Humanitarian Index, 61 percent of respondents from 12 countries said that there were too many humanitarian crises around the world to keep up with. More than half also felt they constantly heard the same stories from the same countries.

Whether the public heard about it or not, over 132 million people worldwide faced hardship as a result of natural disasters and conflict.

Among them were Haitians who have faced a severe food crisis in 2018, yet received the least media attention.

In fact, of the one million online articles monitored between January and November 2018, a little over 500 were about the Caribbean state.

With one of the highest levels of chronic food insecurity in the world, more than half of the population of Haiti face hunger while 22 percent of children are chronically malnourished.

On top of the threat of hurricanes, drought conditions in the Caribbean nation caused reductions in crop production, leaving families without food and thus almost three million people in need of humanitarian assistance.

Marie-Melia Joseph, a mother of eight children, told CARE that all they had was a small family plot and a little money to get food.

“Some days were better than others, but I can’t recall the last decent meal we had,” she said.

According to the 2019 Climate Risk Index, Haiti ranks fourth among countries most affected by extreme weather events. Additionally, a majority of the population live in poverty, earning less than two dollars per day.

In Ethiopia, the escalation of violence forced over one million people to flee their homes, the highest number seen in 2018.

Amreh recounted the evening when she heard gunshots and screams.

“We looked outside and saw people fleeing when we realised something was wrong. My husband went outside to look. That was the last time I saw him,” she told CARE.

“I would give everything to go back to the days when things were normal. I am weak and I depend on help from aid organisations now. I see no future for us,” she added.

After the death of her husband, one of her son’s committed suicide, unable to cope.

In addition to the devastating conflict, drought and food insecurity has also left families struggling to survive.

CARE urged not only international media, but also policy makers and civil society to raise awareness about the many neglected crises around the world in order to help garner funds and aid for those in need.

In 2018, 56 percent of Ethiopia’s humanitarian plan was funded while only 13 percent was funded for Haiti.

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

“Given the challenges the media industry faces with shrinking funds, with coming under attacks that are undermining, and with limited access to some of the world’s worst humanitarian crises, we are all responsible for raising the voices of those affected,” she added.

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