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These are the 10 biggest humanitarian crises that will go most unnoticed in 2024

The number of forcibly displaced people has more than doubled in the last decade, continually breaking historic records. By mid-2023 there would be more than 110 million people forced to flee their homes across the world, with 36.4 million having refugee status and 62.5 million being displaced within their own countries of origin. Almost half of refugees come from just three countries: Syria, Afghanistan and Ukraine and more than 75% are hosted by low-middle income countries, with Turkey and Iran both hosting 3.4 million, followed by Germany and Colombia both with 2.5 million. All of these people had to leave their homes and their lives behind to escape threats to their lives. They did not choose to leave their countries or locations because they were forced to flee due to circumstances beyond their control.

The conflicts in Ukraine and Gaza dominate the news today, but we cannot forget that there are many other conflicts and crises that put thousands of lives at risk and are easily forgotten by the media and the world. In 2023, the response to multiple global crises The people of Gaza and Ukraine are not alone. It is estimated that almost 300 million people, in more than 72 countries, will need humanitarian aid and protection in 2024. Here are some of the biggest humanitarian crises that will intensify in 2023 and that will create more suffering, more deaths and more displaced people.


The engagement conumdrum

People affected: 6.3 million displaced. 2.2. million refugees. 23.7 million in need of aid. 3.7 million children out of school, including 2.2 million girls.

Announced in 2023 (before the escalation in Gaza) as the world's biggest humanitarian crisis by the UN, Afghanistan has fallen off the radar of international media since the Taliban regained power in August 2021. Although conflict-related forced displacement since Withdrawal of Western forces has drastically reduced, the country still faces the effects of more than four decades of war, increasing climate shocks and an Islamic Emirate government that continues to be accused of rights violations while being sanctioned and condemned ostracized by most of the international community. After a series of devastating earthquakes in Herat in October and the recent expulsions of hundreds of thousands of Afghans by neighboring Pakistan, many are questioning the future of Taliban governance. While debates have escalated, critics and human rights advocates want to see more progress on women's rights before issues such as diplomatic retention, frozen Afghan central bank reserves and sanctions on Taliban leaders are reconsidered.

People ask desperately for food. Reuters via VOA News.

Horn of Africa

Conflicts, floods and rivalries over the Red Sea

People affected: In the Greater Horn of Africa region, 49 million suffer from acute food insecurity. More than 19 million displaced people. More than 967 thousand refugees from Ethiopia. More than 580 thousand refugees from Eritrea. More than 150 thousand refugees from Somalia. More than 865 thousand refugees welcomed, mostly in Ethiopia.

Conflicts in this part of the world are transforming. The peace agreement between the Ethiopian government and the Tigray region has lasted for more than a year, but obstacles remain and fighting has broken out in the Amhara and Oromia regions. Somalia's offensive against the Islamic extremist group Al-Shabab appears to have stalled after some initial gains, while regional efforts to wage war in Sudan are having limited impact. Red Sea rivalries are also heating up: landlocked Ethiopia's port ambitions have led to a deal with coastal Somaliland – a breakaway region of Somalia. Mogadishu, which views the area as part of its territory, symbolically annulled the agreement and referred to it as an “act of aggression” that violates its sovereignty. In addition to these conflicts, the effects of natural phenomena are being felt. Following a historic drought, large parts of the Horn of Africa have faced recent catastrophic flooding. Around 2 million people were displaced when entire villages were devastated by El Niño-induced rains.

The Ethiopian army takes control of several regions. Minasse Wondimu Hailu/AA/picture alliance/AA


International intervention can worsen or improve the situation in the country

People affected: 200 thousand people displaced. More than half of Haiti's population – around 5.2 million people – are in need of humanitarian assistance and protection. More than 4,000 people were killed by gang violence in 2023, an 80% increase from 2022. Rape and gender-based violence are reaching unprecedented levels.

Gang violence has strangled Haiti since the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse in July 2021. As murders and rapes continue to rise in the capital – and spread to other parts of the Caribbean nation – UN-backed forces were delayed by legal challenges in Kenya, but could arrive later this year to try to quell the violence. Right now, Haiti has no elected representatives and many fear that any foreign armed force that manages to control the gangs will continue to support Haiti's corrupt political and financial elites . Meanwhile, humanitarian needs are increasing, in a country where access to aid is extremely difficult to negotiate. Around 200,000 people have been displaced – a situation that has worsened since 115,000 Haitians were deported from other countries in 2023. Around 3.3 million Haitians do not have access to drinking water, and in some districts of the capital, almost all They suffer from severe hunger and only receive clean water and one meal (or less) per day.

Protests in the Haitian capital against foreign military intervention. Richard Pierrin/AFP via Getty Images


Houthi attacks in the Red Sea threaten prospects for peace

People affected: 21.6 million in need of humanitarian aid. 4.5 million displaced. More than 377 thousand dead in the conflict.

For almost two years, Yemen's Houthi rebels and the government of Saudi Arabia – which supports Yemen's internationally recognized government – have been discussing an end to the conflict. These behind-the-scenes talks have borne some fruit, but not peace, and the Houthis' attempts to join the conflict between Israel and Hamas by attacking commercial shipping in the Red Sea have the potential to change the dynamic once again. Meanwhile, the country's massive humanitarian crisis continues: Yemen is facing another rapidly spreading cholera outbreak, and the World Food Program announced in late 2023 that it would suspend its general food assistance in northern Yemen - ruled by the Houthi - due to to low financing and a collapse in negotiations. with authorities about who should receive help. NGOs working in the country, which has been dealing with the problem of hunger for many decades, warn that the suspension “will exacerbate the already critical humanitarian situation, disproportionately affecting the most vulnerable populations, including children, pregnant women and the elderly”.

Child among the rubble of his city Taiz, Yemen. Akramalrasny/Shutterstock


Revolts against the junta bring some hope

People affected: 2.5 million displaced. More than 70 thousand refugees. At least 23,000 dead since the 2021 coup d'état.

For the first time since the military-led government assumed full power in February 2021 – arresting Aung San Suu Kyi, whose party had won a landslide electoral victory months earlier – dozens of armed groups are uniting to confront the junta and gain power. While some see the gains of these groups, which number more than 250, as a sign that the junta is finally at a disadvantage and hope that it could one day lead to its downfall, others fear that the military's violent response will only lead to an increase in humanitarian aid needs, in a country that already receives very little global attention. In the short term, the latter situation is already manifesting itself, as more than 660,000 people have recently been displaced since fighting intensified at the end of October. This number adds to the more than 1 million Rohingya refugees who managed to escape one of the most violent persecutions that intensified from 2016 and caused more than 25,000 deaths.

Grupo de Rohingyas foge do alegado genocídio no Myanmar. Paula Bronstein/Getty Images

Democratic Republic of Congo

Record number of people forcibly displaced due to withdrawal of peacekeeping forces

People affected: Almost 7 million internally displaced people. More than 25 million with critical levels of food insecurity. More than 1 million refugees. The country hosts more than 500 thousand refugees.

The displacement crisis in the Democratic Republic of Congo reached a record of 6.9 million last year, with an increase in this number expected given the worsening of the situation at the beginning of this year. President Félix Tshisekedi was declared the overwhelming winner of the December elections, but opposition candidates are demanding a new candidacy, alleging several irregularities. Meanwhile, a long-running UN peacekeeping mission is accelerating its withdrawal just as the security situation is deteriorating. Fighting has been especially intense in the east between the Rwandan-backed M23 rebel group and the Congolese army which is backed by local militias and foreign mercenaries. Civilians also face alarming insecurity in the northeastern region of Ituri and across the long-suffering Kivus.

Thousands of Congolese flee the village of Sake as conflict in DRC intensifies. Lynsey Addario/The New York Times

West Sahel

Jihadist insurgencies increase under junta control

People affected: 8.8 million people need assistance in Mali, with almost 400,000 internally displaced. 3.7 million people require assistance in Burkina Faso, with more than 2 million internally displaced. 4.3 million people require assistance in Niger, with around 335,000 internally displaced people. Thousands died from conflicts.

Jihadist insurgencies and political instability are worsening in Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger, three neighboring countries located in the Sahel. Military leaders seized power in Niger last year, meaning the junta now rules the entire region. They enjoy significant local support but are diplomatically isolated. Jihadist attacks continued in Niger after the coup and sanctions imposed on the country by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) are causing difficulties at the national level. The Burkina Faso junta has halted dialogue efforts with jihadists in favor of a “total war” and the insurgents are imposing sieges on communities that support the army. Meanwhile, in Mali, the junta began a decade-long UN peacekeeping mission and began a dangerous new war with Tuareg-dominated armed groups operating in the north.

Soldiers control polling stations in Mali.Philip Kleinfeld/TNH


The situation gets worse as attention wanes

People affected: 15.3 million needed help before the February earthquakes. 120,000 displaced by violence since October 2023, adding to the “largest displacement crisis in the world” that has already created more than 13 million forcibly displaced people, including

By early 2023, humanitarian needs in Syria were already at a record level due to economic collapse, climate change and a long-unresolved war. By the end of the year, things were much worse. A series of massive earthquakes struck southeastern Turkey and northern Syria in early February, killing more than 4,500 people in Syria (as well as more than 50,000 in Turkey), destroying or damaging tens of thousands of homes, and affecting millions across the country. where the majority were already in crisis. In July, the UN Security Council failed to renew a resolution allowing aid across the Turkey-Syria border, meaning access to this rebel-held part of the country now depends on President Bashar al-Assad's permission. In October, the Syrian government and its Russian allies began bombing targets in Idlib, in a major escalation that killed civilians and forced 120,000 to flee their homes. Add to this a cholera outbreak and humanitarian funding so low that the World Food Program says it will stop its general food assistance in January 2024. The outlook is now more than a little worrying.

Couple walks through the completely destroyed city of Aleppo. Natalia Sancha


An ethnic cleansing that is creating the largest internal displacement crisis in the world

People affected: More than 7 million displaced. 25 million (more than half the population) in need of humanitarian aid. At least 12.000 dead in 2023 due to the conflict.

The conflict that broke out in April between the Sudanese army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) has created the largest internally displaced person crisis in the world. More than 7 million people have fled their homes, including 1.5 million who have fled abroad. Khartoum has been devastated and the RSF is accused of ethnic cleansing and genocide crimes in Darfur. Mediation efforts have failed and aid organizations face one of the most inhospitable operating environments in the world, as well as limited funding. Sudanese mutual aid groups are primarily responsible for the humanitarian response, but have received little support from international donors and several have had to halt their work. Fears that Sudan is facing a Libyan-style split, between the RSF-controlled west and the army-controlled north and east, are giving way to worries that the RSF – which is on a diplomatic offensive as consolidates its military advantage – it is seeking total power.

Sudanese man walks past the makeshift camp on the border between Sudan and Chad. Zohra Bensemra/Reuters.


Little hope for a calmer political climate in 2024

People affected: More than 7 million people have fled the country and 84% are refugees or migrants in Latin America, of which 5 million need humanitarian aid and 7.7 million need help inside Venezuela.

President Nicolás Maduro's decision in December to annex Guyana's oil-rich Essequibo region was just the latest in a series of developments in late 2023 that have dampened hopes for an end to the political, humanitarian and humanitarian crisis. and economic crisis that has driven more than 7 million Venezuelans to flee since 2015 and left the remaining 28.7 million facing hyperinflation, destroyed health services and hunger. Maduro's government signed an agreement in October with the opposition to pave the way for free and monitored elections in 2024 – this would include lifting US sanctions on Venezuela's once-powerful oil industry. A few days later, the UN agreed to manage a trust fund to unfreeze Venezuela's sanctioned assets abroad to respond to humanitarian needs. But as the opposition gained strength, Maduro sought to reassert his power by arresting key leaders. Coupled with the move to annex Essequibo, this risks a reimposition of US sanctions, destabilizing the region and once again exacerbating Venezuela's enormous humanitarian needs.

Protesters clash with the Venezuelan National Guard in San Cristobal. Carlos Eduardo Ramirez/Reuters.

Adapted from The New Humanitarian's article "Why these 10 humanitarian crises demand your attention now".

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