A report released Tuesday by CARE International outlines what it says were last year's 10 most underrreported humanitarian crises. It says more than 51 million people suffered in those crises — all away from the public eye.
CARE analyzed online media coverage in multiple languages to determine which crises got the least amount of attention from the media relative to their severity in 2019. It found that most of them — 9 out of 10 — were on the African continent.
"From Madagascar to Lake Chad to North Korea, the majority of crises ranked in our report are partly a consequence of declining natural resources, increasing extreme weather events and global warming more broadly," Sally Austin, CARE International's head of emergency operations, said in a news release.
Here are the crises named in CARE's "Suffering in Silence" report:
10. A decade of conflict, hunger and displacement in the Lake Chad Basin
CARE International's report says almost 10 million people need humanitarian assistance due to violence, hunger, poverty and dropping water levels in the Lake Chad Basin. The surface area of Lake Chad is only 10% of what it once was, and people who once relied on the lake for fish, or to water their fields, can no longer do so.
Violence in the region has caused high levels of displacement and contributed to it having one of the highest mortality rates in the world due to low immunization, poor hygiene and limited access to clean water. Diseases like hepatitis, cholera, measles and malaria spread rapidly, and maternal health is particularly poor. Maternal deaths account for 45% of all deaths of women between the ages of 15 and 49, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).
9. Millions are malnourished in Ethiopia
CARE International describes the situation in Ethiopia as a "vicious cycle of disaster, hunger and displacement." It says the country, located in the Horn of Africa, has faced flooding and is subject to repeated droughts, which worsens extreme poverty. Nearly 8 million people suffered from a "serious level" of malnutrition last year, it says.
Another challenge last year was the needs of refugees, returnees and people who were internally displaced.
8. "A silent humanitarian catastrophe" in Burkina Faso
Violence escalated in late 2018 in Central Sahel, an African region including Burkina Faso, making insecurity and armed attacks an everyday reality in parts of the country. This affected more than a quarter of the population. In 2019, about 30,000 people were driven from their homes every month.
"Overall, around 1.5 million people in Burkina Faso needed humanitarian aid - protection, food and livelihoods assistance — in 2019,
and this number is expected to rise to 2.2 million in 2020," the report says, citing figures from OCHA.
7. Stuck between droughts and floods in Kenya
Rainfall in Kenya last year was at least 20% below average. That caused harvests to fail and contributed to a fragile situation in the East African nation where, despite a thriving tourism industry, over a million people live without regular access to food.
Half a million children under five years old in Kenya require treatment for malnutrition. Tensions between communities for land and water resources are intensifying, and conflicts caused by climate change have become a reality.
6. Hidden hunger in North Korea
The United Nations estimates that nearly 11 million North Koreans are in need of humanitarian assistance, but aid groups struggle to deliver help because of government restrictions. CARE says almost 40% of the population does not have access to clean drinking water and malnutrition rates have been increasing for years.
Restrictions on media mean the outside world does not have a true picture of the crisis in North Korea.
5. Hundred of thousands flee Eritrea every year
Eritrea is largely cut off from international aid and media, meaning that information about the situation there is difficult to come by. Food insecurity is a major issue, and despite an end to conflicts with Ethiopia and Somalia, landmines remain a threat. Forced labor and military service mean a lot of young people feel they have no choice but to migrate, and hundreds of thousands leave every year, CARE's report says.
A high rate of child marriage means many girls in Eiritrea become mothers at a very young age and are deprived of the chance to go to school.
4. Hunger in Burundi
"With prolonged political insecurity, high levels of poverty and significant human rights concerns, the humanitarian situation in Burundi remains fragile," CARE's report says.
Rates of food insecurity improved in 2019, but the majority of Burundians lack basic services like sanitation, access to safe drinking water, and healthcare. Women and girls often seek out alternative means of supporting their families, sometimes engaging in prostitution.
3. Temperatures rising in Zambia
Temperatures in Zambia are rising at about twice the global rate, causing severe, recurring droughts that are destroying crops and jeopardizing livelihoods and food supplies, CARE says. Crop failures are driving up food prices — maize, a staple, cost 70% more in 2019 compared to the previous year - and people are increasingly struggling to find safe drinking water.
2. Conflict in Central African Republic has displaced hundreds of thousands
Violence has forced one in four people in Central African Republic to flee their homes, and years of conflict have affected infrastructure and access to food. Over 40% of people living in CAR are food insecure. Adding to the crisis is the fact that CAR is one of the most dangerous countries for aid workers, who face ambushes and looting on a regular basis, CARE says, citing OCHA.
1. Madagascar: "Hungry and forgotten"
Madagascar is one of the poorest nations in the world. It also ranks as one of the countries most affected by climate change due to its susceptibility to natural disasters and people's reliance on agriculture for food, CARE says. At the end of last year, more than 2.6 million people were suffering due to drought. Crop failures have increased food prices, forcing people to sell off assets to eat and travel long distances in search of alternative incomes. Women have been particularly vulnerable to exploitation, the organization says.