The International Rescue Committee (IRC) has aid workers in countries facing humanitarian crises around the world. The IRC has worked in these countries for 15 years on average.
The IRC publishes a watchlist of the countries with most lives at risk so the world and other humanitarian organisations can join forces to alleviate the crises.
New analysis by experts have revealed that the most lives at risk in the world are concentrated in 20 countries and they are likely to be hit by the worst humanitarian catastrophe in 2020.
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These 20 countries, according to IRC, contribute to just about 10% of the world’s population, but are home to 80% of the people in need in the world.
Most of these 20 countries have a blatant disregard for the International Humanitarian Law and the restrictions to humanitarian access greatly undermines the ability of humanitarian actors who are on grounds to respond to these crises and meet the population’s growing needs.
The top five countries in the 2020 watchlist, Yemen (number one for the second year in a row), the Democratic Republic of Congo, Syria, Nigeria and Venezuela all ranked highly in the 2019 list. According to the IRC, it just goes to show “the collective failure of the international community to resolve the root causes of these humanitarian disasters.”
These factors cut across the 20 countries on the watchlist, restrictions on humanitarian access, conflicts mostly driven by militancy and scarce resources arising from droughts and floods which are all underlying factors of climate change (most countries in the Sahel region are facing this issue), nine out of the top 10 are currently experiencing major conflicts and finally disease outbreaks all make the people in these countries susceptible to some of the worst humanitarian crises in 2020.
There is a total of 14 African countries out of the 20 countries on the IRC Watchlist, six of which are in the top 10.
In order of risk, the top six African countries likely to experience the worst humanitarian crises over the coming year are the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Nigeria, South Sudan, Burkina Faso, Somalia and Central African Republic (CAR).
The other seven at the bottom 10 also in order of risk are Burundi, Cameroon, Chad, Ethiopia, Libya, Mali, Niger and Sudan.
“Countries appear on the Watchlist because the IRC’s analysis suggests they are at high risk of experiencing events that, given the existing vulnerability of the population and/or the country’s limited response capability, could trigger a humanitarian crisis.”
Also, the countries on the list were “selected, scored and ranked by means of a multi-stage process of quantitative and qualitative analysis by experts.”
The world needs to do more for these countries, especially those in the top 10 because appeals for humanitarian funding have not been forthcoming. According to IRC, in 2019 appeals for funding were 40% averagely underfunded.
David Miliband, President and CEO of the International Rescue Committee, said in a statement on Tuesday, “2019 was a devastating year for civilians caught in crisis worldwide”.
“Truly the Age of Impunity has arrived. 70.8 million people are displaced worldwide. Armed conflict, growing disregard for international humanitarian law amidst a crisis of global leadership means the dangers in 2020 are growing not receding.
“As humanitarians, we can prevent the dying, but it takes politics to stop the killing. Humanitarian actors like the IRC will continue to respond with lifesaving aid.”
Miliband called on the international community spearheaded by the U.N. Security Council members to engage relevant actors to bring more stability to the countries facing these humanitarian crises and hold accountable anyone that violates the International Humanitarian law.
He added that if care is not taken, “the consequences of these humanitarian crises — massive displacement, women and girls at risk of violence, widespread hunger, demolished health systems, a lost generation of children with no chance of education– offer no hope of abating.”