The #nichtvergesser campaign: drawing attention to forgotten humanitarian crises

01.03.2017 - Article

The Federal Foreign Office has launched the #nichtvergesser campaign. It brings forgotten, drawn‑out humanitarian crises back to the public’s attention. The campaign seeks to inform and calls on everyone to think about this topic.

Violent conflicts and an increasing number of natural disasters have led to a situation in which currently more than 128 million people in 33 countries around the world require humanitarian assistance to survive. Some of these regions have been affected by crises for several decades. Yet the fate of those who are suffering often gets very little media coverage. The #nichtvergesser campaign brings these forgotten humanitarian crises back to the public’s attention. The campaign seeks to inform and calls on everyone to think about this topic.

What are forgotten humanitarian crises?

Figure illustrating low media coverage of forgotten crises
Figure illustrating low media coverage of forgotten crises© Meltwater Group/#nichtvergesser

So-called “forgotten humanitarian crises” are mainly drawn-out crises that actually require a large humanitarian response, but that receive only little media coverage, as well as insufficient aid and donations. The crises in Yemen (civil war and food scarcity) and in Myanmar (persecution of ethnic minorities), as well as in Colombia (internal displacement due to the armed conflict between the army, rebels and paramilitary fighters) and in Western Sahara (refugees in Algeria) are notable examples of forgotten humanitarian crises. In the Forgotten Crisis Assessment, forgotten crises are assigned index values on an annual basis and according to standardised rules. The assessment is conducted by ECHO, the European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations Directorate‑General of the European Commission.

What is the goal of the #nichtvergesser campaign?

Forgotten humanitarian crises are mainly drawn-out crises that generate great humanitarian need but that receive only scant media coverage. “The lack of media interest is a severe problem. It means that there is almost no public awareness of these crises as they unfold. As a result, these regions receive practically no donations,” Verena Götze of Johanniter Emergency Service explains, who is responsible for coordinating the campaign on behalf of the Federal Foreign Office. The aim of the #nichtvergesser campaign is therefore to draw more public attention to forgotten humanitarian crises and to promote humanitarian engagement, with a view to addressing them.

Forgetting crises means forgetting people: #nichtvergesser
Forgetting crises means forgetting people: #nichtvergesser© Plan International Deutschland

The campaign’s strategy and instruments

“We have chosen to harness the power of social networks such as Facebook and Twitter to get our message out to as many people as possible,” Götze says. A particular priority is to inform young people such as pupils and university students about the issue of forgotten humanitarian crises. The campaign team develops material for youth groups and schools for this purpose. High-impact public events are designed to get a broad audience involved in the process. The public relations campaign is also directed at political decision-makers, for in addition to humanitarian aid, political commitment is absolutely essential for resolving the conflicts that are at the root of most crises.

The initiators hope, by the summer of 2018, to have collected the signatures of 100,000 citizens and supporters who choose to speak out against forgotten crises. This petition will then be handed over to a high-profile figure, such as UN Secretary-General António Guterres, urging him to do more to address forgotten crises. The campaign is designed to raise the political and public profile of this issue, which is necessary to bring forgotten crises back into the public eye.

Who is behind the #nichtvergesser campaign?

The Federal Foreign Office is jointly organising and implementing this campaign with a number of German humanitarian organisations: Johanniter Emergency Service, the International Department of Caritas Germany, Plan International, SOS Children’s Villages, Welthungerhilfe, Malteser International, Humedica, CARE Deutschland-Luxemburg e.V., Help – Hilfe zur Selbsthilfe, the International Rescue Committee (IRC) and arche noVa.

Bärbel Kofler, the Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Aid, is patron of the campaign.

Find out more:

Website of the #nichtvergesser campaign​​​​​​​

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