The ten most neglected displacement crises in the world were all in Africa in 2021, according to the Norwegian Refugee Council’s annual index. The ranking, based on the relative lack of media coverage, shortfalls in humanitarian funding and the extent of political neglect, placed the Democratic Republic of Congo first, followed by Burkina Faso, Cameroon and South Sudan. It marks the first year since the ranking began that all ten places have been attributed to countries on the African continent.
While the NRC’s latest ranking presents data from 2021 and not this year, analysts note that in most cases the situation will likely deteriorate in 2022 on account of growing food crises and in many cases political instability. The NRC warns that the Ukraine conflict is already having a knock on effect, as the war dominates international headlines. This has led to funds being diverted from other causes, and other crises receiving less assistance and pressure for diplomacy efforts. At the same time, the global surges in wheat and fuel prices have exacerbated hunger.
The DR Congo has come in first position for the second year running, and marks the sixth year that it has been on the list. In 2021, the Nyiragongo volcano erupted and food insecurity hit some 27 million people - a third of the country’s population. By the end of the year, the country had more than 5.5. million internally displaced people, the third highest in the world (after Syria and Colombia). The DR Congo received the lowest score out of all the countries analyzed for media coverage in relation to the number of people displaced and also scored poorly for the lack of high level political discussions taking place. This year does not look much more hopeful, as since March 2022, the cost of sugar and cooking oil has risen by 50 percent, bread by 20 percent and rice by 11 percent, whilst insecurity persists.
Burkina Faso ranks second on the list, with violence levels having surged in 2021, claiming the lives of more than 800 civilians and forcing more than half a million to flee. According to the report, media coverage was also greatly restricted since journalists were not allowed to access displacement sites. Meanwhile, only 10 percent of educational needs were covered by humanitarian funding. January 2022 was brought in with a coup, with analysts predicting the country will face further political unease this year whilst the number of displaced persons approaches the 2 million mark.
Other countries included on the list include South Sudan, which saw devastating flooding exacerbated by the climate crisis, as well as Mali following a military takeover. Nigeria, one of Africa’s most powerful economies, features in eighth place due to conflict in the country’s north-east, as well as clashes over resources in central and north-western parts of the nation. Ethiopia is in tenth place, following conflict in the Tigray region.
The NRC ranked all crises that led to the displacement of at least 200,000 people in 2021. While most countries of the 41 analyzed are in Africa, Syria only narrowly misses the list, appearing in a close 11th place. Central and South America are also over represented with Honduras (21st), Guatemala (24th) El Salvador (25th) and Mexico (38th), as well as Colombia (15th) and Venezuela (20th), respectively. Cyprus (33rd place) is the only European country to be included on the ranking.
The NRC is calling for governments to pledge to streams of funding rather than one-off pledges to counter donor fatigue.