Thursday, June 07, 2018

The Forgotten Continent

 Six of the world's 10 most neglected crises are in Africa, where conflict has uprooted millions of people, the Norwegian Refugee Council said, attributing the lack of attention or interest to little media attention, aid, and political will.

Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), where years of civil war have led more than 5 million people to flee their homes, topped the NRC's annual list this year. South Sudan, Burundi, Ethiopia, Central African Republic and Nigeria also featured. Other countries on the list were Venezuela, Myanmar and Yemen, while the Palestinian territories also featured.

NRC Secretary General Jan Egeland said while Syria is the bloodiest war in the world with millions displaced over the last eight years, it is not considered to be among the most neglected crises as it is receiving global attention. Conflicts in Africa, he said, were viewed differently.
"Many displaced from these countries do not end up as refugees in the Mediterranean, and are not visible for us in the north - so these crises get too little diplomatic and media attention," Egeland told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. "Also, some of these conflicts are so protracted - there has been a humanitarian crisis in one way or the other in South Sudan for the last 30 years. So we have to fight this sense of hopelessness. It can change, and it must change." Egeland said the price of neglecting the crises in Africa was being paid by mothers unable to feed their children, youth deprived of education and entire nations becoming increasingly dependent on emergency aid.

There is no clearer evidence of the international apathy towards the plight of the Congolese than the disappointing results of the Global Donor Conference for DR Congo in Geneva this past April. The participating nations pledged  $528 million – a lackluster result, which amounted to only a third of the $1.7 billion required to cover humanitarian needs. Worse yet, many of the pledges have yet to be fulfilled. World leaders have failed to see the enormity and gravity of the humanitarian crisis in DR Congo—instead chalking this up as ‘business as usual’. It is not the case. The situation is much worse than it has ever been. Conflict is causing people to find refuge in neighbouring countries, and creating an environment that is ripe for a regional crisis.

The lack of attention and funding means that aid organizations have had to make impossible choices, constantly forced to decide which communities should receive aid, and which must survive without. Because of the rising number of people who need support, the little available relief must be parsed among a growing number of communities.

Ulrika Blom is the Country Director of the Norwegian Refugee Council in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, said:
"I visited a territory in Tanganyika province, where people had been on the run since May 2017. None of them had received assistance since arriving in their host community. I encountered face after face of bone-tired women, who have had to work the fields from sun up to sundown, just to feed their children. They often forego meals for the sake of their youngest. I saw that children roamed the streets aimlessly in tattered clothes, because their parents did not have enough to pay for their school fees. Amid torrential rains, whole families were housed under flimsy, mosquito net tents, because humanitarian funding for dignified shelters were not deemed a ´priority’. "

No comments: