The speed and scale of the response in European Union and NATO countries to the crisis in Ukraine shows what is possible in times of emergency.
It also contrasts sharply with the effort focused on other humanitarian crises by the wider international community.
The Norwegian Refugee Council compiles an annual list of ten emergencies, which have displaced millions of people, that they deem to be the "most neglected" in the world.
This year, all 10 countries on the list are in Africa.
Food insecurity – a feature of all the emergencies highlighted in the list – will be exacerbated throughout 2022 by the disruption to supply caused by the war in Ukraine.
Their neglect rankings are based on:
- A lack of political will to tackle the crisis
- A lack of media attention
- A lack of international aid
In order of severity, the list for 2022 is outlined below.
1. Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)
A volcano in 2021 briefly attracted international attention.
The plight of 27 million people experiencing hunger did not.
Over the last 30 years, DRC has hosted refugees from regional conflicts and experienced major wars of its own.
Five-and-a-half million DRC citizens are displaced within the country, while another one million have fled abroad.
Since November 2021 women and children have been killed in brutal attacks camps hosting people fleeing conflict. Rival militias – including an affiliate if ISIS – are fighting over lands and resources in the east of DRC.
Only 44% of the $2bn in aid requested by the UN was delivered in 2021.
2. Burkina Faso
Burkina Faso is a landlocked country, with limited rainfall.
Climate change has also affected the country's supply of water.
For over a decade the conflict in the central Sahel region (Mali, Niger & Burkina Faso) has seen clashes between militant insurgent groups, government and international forces.
One-and-a-half million Burkinabé have fled the fighting over the last three years.
Access to water and sanitation in camps for internally displaced people (IDPs) is extremely limited.
Less than half of the funds requested by the UN have been provided to provide relief to the country.
Around three-and-a-half million Burkinabé are expected to go hungry in the coming year.
Inter-ethnic tension, climate change and the effects of Covid-19 have combined in Cameroon to leave 4.4 million people in need of some form of humanitarian support.
Conflict has seriously hampered efforts to help those displaced by war in the country’s English-speaking region.
Refugees from the neighbouring Central African Republic have also increased pressure on the resources of communities.
The NRC has put Cameroon on its list of top 10 neglected displacement crises for four consecutive years.
The humanitarian organisation believes the situation is unlikely to improve as detention of aid workers has led organisations to suspend their work in the country.
4. South Sudan
The number of displaced people in South Sudan had been falling following a 2018 peace agreement between parties to the country’s civil war.
However, violence in the country remains widespread.
The UN humanitarian agency OCHA said that "at least 3,414 civilians killed, injured, abducted, or subjected to conflict related sexual violence"
It also points to "persistent and unprecedented flooding, inflation, and the impact and economic weight of Covid-19" resulting in massive internal and cross-border displacement.
Nearly nine million people will need humanitarian assistance in the country this year.
While almost 70% of the UN’s aid request was funded last year, the conflict in the country and weather events meant reaching those who needed help was challenging.
A rebellion within Chad’s borders has driven nearly 400,000 people from their homes.
Negotiations to end the conflict in the country are unlikely to conclude quickly.
Chad also hosts over 450,000 refugees from conflicts in neighbouring states Sudan, Nigeria and the Central African Republic.
The landlocked central-African country is also dealing with the severe effects of climate change, including rapid desertification and the drying up of Lake Chad.
A little over a third of the UN’s request for aid was funded in 2021, a reduction of 25% since 2020. According to the World Bank, 20% of Chadian children will not make it to their fifth birthday.
A further 40% will suffer from stunting due to malnutrition.
Like Burkina Faso, conflict in the Sahel has had a devastating effect on the life of civilians in Mali, particularly in the north and central districts of the country.
Food insecurity in Mali has now reached its worst levels in a decade.
Much of the international attention in the country has focused on the political and military situation, which has seen ISIS and al-Qaeda affiliates battle government forces, who were supported by European and other regional forces.
Russian mercenaries have entered the conflict more recently, resulting in a withdrawal of French forces from the country.
Seven-and-a-half million people are in need of assistance in Mali.
Under 40% of the UN’s aid appeal was funded in 2021.
In 2021 alone, more than 500,000 people were displaced in Sudan, bringing the total to 3.2 million.
Conflict in Darfur accounted for most of the movement last year.
Villages and camps were burned down, forcing people to flee to other makeshift camps.
More than 14 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance – 10 million of whom are "acutely food-insecure", according to the NRC.
A military coup, which led to large amounts of international aid being frozen; an influx of refugees from South Sudan and a proliferation of weapons in the country has led the NRC to forecast that the number of people in difficulty in Sudan will double by September.
In 2021, 37% of the UN’s aid appeal was funded.
Several conflicts are driving displacement and insecurity in Nigeria.
The persistent Boko Haram Islamist insurgency in the north east; conflict between herders and farmers in the centre; separatist conflict in the south east and tensions in the Niger Delta have led to more than two million people being displaced.
UN helicopters were needed to deliver aid in the north east due to the dangers of travelling by road.
The closure of a number of camps in the area also led to further displacement of thousands of people fleeing conflict.
This also limits media access and has led to the conflict being largely ignored internationally.
Thirteen million people are in need of assistance.
The UN aid appeal had a shortfall of over 25% in 2021.
Over a quarter of a million Burundians have been living in DR Congo, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda since the violence around the 2015 presidential election.
These refugees are unable to work and lack basic services.
Many believe it is unsafe to return, with documented cases of disappearance and torture of members of opposition groups.
The country has been on the NRC list for five consecutive years.
The UN’s appeal in 2021 was 45% funded.
According to the World Bank, low growth, high inflation and the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic worsened an already-difficult economic situation.
The two-year conflict between the federal government in Addis Ababa and the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front left over four million people internally displaced in Ethiopia.
Tens of thousands of others fled into neighbouring Sudan.
Ethiopia also hosts hundreds of thousands of refugees from South Sudan, Somalia and Eritrea.
A humanitarian truce declared by the government in March has yet to translate into significant aid delivery, according to the NRC.
The UN’s appeal for aid in 2021 was only 47% funded.
Almost 28 million Ethiopians need humanitarian assistance – the largest number within any single country in the world. Drought is likey to exacerbate the situation in 2022.
The NRC recommends the UN Security Counci to engage more meaningfully, both at the global and regional level to prevent crises becoming normalised.
Negotiating with parties to conflict for safe humanitarian access to conflict areas for aid agencies is also required, the report said. The costs of sanctions or counterterrorism measures should not be borne by civilians.
Parties to conflicts should also be held accountable for breaches of international humanitarian and human rights law.
A lack of media coverage – except in cases of disease or natural disaster – contributes the international neglect of these crises, the report says. A lack of access due to insecurity and limited press freedom has compounded this issue.