Forgotten crises: support for people in need

14.08.2020 - Article

Many humanitarian crises are not in the public eye and, as a result, the people affected do not receive adequate support. The Federal Foreign Office is drawing attention to these crises and is active across the globe, from El Salvador to Burundi and Myanmar.

The logic is simple: the more attention a crisis receives, the more assistance can be mobilised for the people affected. Major humanitarian emergencies are regularly in the news. The explosion in Beirut, for example, has dominated the headlines, with all channels reporting on the accident. Natural disasters are also often in the public eye, whether Hurricane Katrina, the tsunami in the Indian Ocean or the most recent bush fires in Australia.

But many crises remain unseen, hidden from the eyes of the world. Whether in El Salvador, Burundi or Myanmar, at the end of 2019, almost 170 million people across the globe were dependent on humanitarian assistance, most of them in so‑called forgotten crises. Usually these crises have been simmering for a long time, triggered by civil war, frequent droughts and flooding or the gradually emerging consequences of climate change, which are robbing people of their livelihood.

Myanmar, the Sahel, the Central African Republic

The lack of reporting often goes hand in hand with inadequate assistance for the people affected. The European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations Directorate-General of the European Commission (ECHO) identifies these forgotten crises by means of the annual Forgotten Crisis Assessment, which the Federal Foreign Office also uses as a frame of reference.

There are 15 crises on the list in 2020. They include the expulsion of the Rohingya in Myanmar and Bangladesh, the famines in the Sahel region and the domestic unrest in the Central African Republic, which is threatening the lives of thousands of people.

Working to raise awareness of forgotten crises

The Federal Foreign Office is working to raise awareness of these situations: around 20 percent of the humanitarian assistance budget is used to help alleviate forgotten crises. Moreover, Germany is one of the largest donors to the United Nations Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF), which earmarks around one third of its resources for countries and regions in which forgotten crises are unfolding. For 2020, Germany’s contribution to the CERF already totals 100 million euro.

In addition, the Federal Foreign Office is continually increasing the proportion of funds that are not dependent on being used for a specific purpose. That is important for the organisations providing help on the ground: Only when they can be flexible in their use of the funds can these be deployed where they are most needed, which may be for people in forgotten crises.

The Federal Foreign Office spotlights 15 forgotten crises

The Federal Foreign Office, together with its partners, will spotlight 15 forgotten crises over the coming months to bring them back into the public eye. From El Salvador and Haiti to Myanmar, it will focus on crises in very different regions of the world and investigate the background to them, the way they are affecting people’s lives and Germany’s engagement on the Ground.


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