The large scale humanitarian crisis in Syria has been dominating the headlines for the past several years. However, there are other regions in which people are living in precarious conditions and fighting to survive. In Yemen, which has been devastated by civil war, the risk of famine looms large. In Colombia, people are still suffering from the consequences of a decades-long armed conflict between the army, rebels and paramilitary groups. In Algeria, the Sahrawi refugee crisis drags on. Why do these humanitarian crises attract so little public attention?
386 million euros in German assistance
These are among the so called forgotten humanitarian crises – for the most part, long running crises that require a large amount of humanitarian assistance. However, because they are not in the public spotlight, they are also plagued by a lack of aid and donations.
One of the focuses of Federal Foreign Office support is providing aid to forgotten humanitarian crises. In 2017 alone, it provided some 386 million euros in assistance to relief projects for such crises. This does not include Germany’s contributions to the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) of the United Nations in the amount of 75 million euros, much of which is used to address underfunded forgotten crises.
The #nichtvergesser campaign
To do even more, two years ago the Federal Foreign Office joined up with numerous German humanitarian agencies and launched the #nichtvergesser campaign, which aims to strengthen the efforts of civil society to combat forgotten crises. The #nichtvergesser hashtag and the knotted handkerchief that can be seen on many photos of well known supporters (such as Culcha Candela, Alba Berlin and the actor Samuel Koch) are symbols of the campaign. There is, however, also lots behind the imagery – the campaign’s website www.nichtvergesser.de gives an overview of the actual crises and of the projects that are currently addressing forgotten crises. It also shows how you can get involved.
More than 100,000 people have so far visibly shown their support for the campaign by becoming #Nichtvergesser. On 6 June, a panel discussion was held in the reading room at the Federal Foreign Office. At the event, Bärbel Kofler, the Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Aid, engaged in a discussion with media representatives and members of aid organisations about why some humanitarian crises do not make headline news. According to Kofler, this topic deserves more attention, because “forgetting crises means forgetting people.