Predicting humanitarian crisis 2022
As 2021 drew to a close, a sombre DeJa’Vu is rocking the global community. Once again, the level of individuals in need of humanitarian assistance is reaching new heights (17% increase from 2021), and the amount of fundingneeded to rectify the humanitarian calamities persisting today has risen drastically by 17%. This information comes after the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) released its Global Humanitarian Overview (GHO) report. It details and warns that a colossal 274 million people can be expected to seek humanitarian relief this coming year and 41 billion dollars will be needed to effectively cater to these people. Not only are these figures hard to digest, but they come after a year of hard-hitting humanitarian fiascos, particularly in places such as Myanmar, Yemen, Mozambique, Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Sudan, and Syria. Issues such as foodinsecurity, forced displacement, conflict, climate change, Covid-19, and economic decline have fused together and rippled through every crevice of these countries with no signs of abating.
With that being said, here is an overview of the top three gravest humanitarian crises we can expect to seein 2022.
Previously labelled by the UN as the “world’s worst humanitarian disaster”, Yemen should remain high on people’s radars in 2022. In 2014, systemic and political collapse fuelled a gruesome protracted conflict, which has sincebeen ensued by the forced displacement of 4 million civilians. As well as this, it has made 16 million people food insecure; most of whom are women and children. The severity of the food situation, coupled with continuing economic decline, means that the potential for serious famine in 2022 cannot be
overlooked. Efforts have been made previously to keep famine at bay, however, lack of sustained funding is gradually eroding any previous successses made. To make matters worse, climate change and the Covid-19 pandemic are exacerbating the fragility of the situation. Environmental disasters such as floods continue to displace families, destroy infrastructure, and enable the spread of diseases like cholera and dengue. The Covid-19 pandemic has put added pressure on the country’s already weak public sector; as health care systems are stretched to their limits. The UN has projected that 20.7 million people (approximately 60% of the population) will require humanitarianassistance in 2022.
A further cause for concern is the way in which women and children have been disproportionately affected throughout the conflict. Figures suggest that 11 million children are in need, with 2 million of those internally displaced and 400,000 on brink of starvation. Incessant conflict and economic decline continue to impede access to health and education services among these children.
Given the unlikelihood of conflict de-escalation and resolution, it is expected that conditions in Yemen willdeteriorate in the coming months and the most visible cause for concern will by no doubt be the potential for famineand severe acute malnutrition.
Perhaps one of the biggest shocks of 2021 was the Taliban’s takeover of Kabul in August, following the withdrawalof United State troops. Shaken by fear, international donors subsequently proceeded to freeze billions worth of financial aid and assets, which the Afghan economy was heavily reliant upon. As a result of this, the economic state of the country has drastically decayed and it is generating a humanitarian disaster in a country that has already been crippled by poverty, wars, drought, and environmental disasters. Concerns amongst civilians are also veryvisible as thousands continue to flee in a bid to keep hold of their basic human rights and personal freedoms; all of which are threatened under Taliban rule. According to the UNHCR, there are now 3.5 million internally displaced Afghans, of which 700,000 were from 2021 alone.
Hunger, as a result of conflict, severe drought, economic collapse, and Covid-19, is again of stark concern amongst the humanitarian community. Babar Baloch, spokesperson for the UNHCR said “Nearly 23 million people—that is 55 per cent of the population—are facing extreme levels of hunger, and nearly nine million of them are at risk of famine”. One must also bear in mind that the situation is most likely set to worsen as a result of winter weatherconditions. As a result of the progression of affairs in the country, some experts now believe that Afghanistan could become the next Yemen, as the UN’s latest figures suggest that 24.4 million people will require humanitarianassistance in 2022.
In Ethiopia, an array of issues are threatening the livelihood of 25.9 million people. Conflict in Tigray between theTigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) and the national government has spread to neighbouring regions such as Amhara and Afar. The direct ramifications of the conflict can be seen through the forced displacement of 2.11 millioncivilians, who have fled their hometowns in a bid for safety. On a wider scale, however, figures suggest that 4.2million people are internally displaced across Ethiopia.
Unfortunately, conflict is not the only driver of displacement, as extreme weather conditions continue to pulse through the country. Floods, droughts, and locust infestations have been exacerbated by climate change and they pose a detrimental threat to civilians. Ethiopia is a country that is heavily dependent on agriculture and as we have seen with the likes of Afghanistan, these climate shocks disrupt access to food supplies, threaten agricultural livelihoods, and enable the spread of diseases. As such, hundreds of thousands are known to be displaced annuallyin search of food and income security.
Mass starvation, as a result of the ongoing conflict, climate shocks, increasing food prices, and the Covid-19 pandemic will continue to remain a terrifying reality in the coming months. Reports suggest that hunger has reduced people to eating leaves as a food source. As well as this, humanitarian operations in the Northern regions are increasingly difficult, as access to essential aid has previously been blocked and looted by both federal and regional forces. Sadly, these access constraints have been further aggravated by the UN’s funding shortfall.
As we can see, there is a global trend to these humanitarian catastrophes; conflict and political turmoil arise, ensued by both forced displacement and food insecurities and then further aggravated by climate change andCovid-19. Although it should be understood that all of these issues hold great significance, this article wants to emphasise the menacing threat of famine for 45 million people in 2022. As such, driving, increasing, and sustaining relief efforts is a responsibility that the international community must bear, if we are to maintain lives and avert this from happening. Even though the sole focus of this article is the state of the conditions in Yemen, Afghanistan, and Ethiopia, we must not overlook what is happening in countries such as Nigeria, Sudan, the DRC,Myanmar, Somalia, Syria, and South Sudan.
In conclusion, we would be right in predicting that 2022 is going to bring some very serious challenges to theinternational community and in order for us to effectively cater to the people most in need, the global community must be proactive. Whether that be donating, campaigning, or spreading awareness, we urge everyone to tune into their moral compass and help us lessen the suffering of millions. Although aid is not the ultimate solution to these issues, it will, however, help alleviate some of the sufferings in 2022 by preventing the dissolution of economies, providing basic human needs, and feeding empty stomachs.
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