Humanitarian needs to deepen in dozens of conflict zones as world’s attention wanes

ICRC

Humanitarian needs in dozens of countries from Yemen to Somalia, Afghanistan and the Democratic Republic of Congo are rising, a pattern that the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) expects to continue in 2023. For the millions of people in these countries reliant on humanitarian assistance, greater support is desperately needed to save lives and avert further suffering.

“There are more than 100 armed conflicts in the world today,” said ICRC President Mirjana Spoljaric.

The international armed conflict between Russia and Ukraine has wreaked havoc on global food and energy prices. Nowhere are the impacts of rising food and energy prices felt harder than communities impacted by armed conflict and violence. For example, in 2022, ICRC’s market price monitoring saw food staples rise by 45% in Ethiopia and Yemen and over 30% in Mali, Afghanistan and Somalia.

The ICRC is appealing for 2.8 billion Swiss francs to fund its work in 2023. A short snapshot of some of the humanitarian crises where needs are rising include:

  • In Somalia, drought and conflict mean increased hunger is preying on the youngest. Our stabilization centre in Baidoa has seen a more than 170% rise in the number of malnourished children admitted for treatment versus 2021, while ICRC-supported hospitals have recorded a 30% increase in mass casualty events.
  • Though fighting has now halted in northern Ethiopia, the humanitarian needs left in the wake of two years of brutal armed conflict are acute. ICRC teams have resumed moving humanitarian assistance into Tigray by land and air. It also continued assisting people in the neighboring Amhara and Afar. This will need to be sustained and scaled up massively to prevent further suffering after people went for months without food and medical care.
  • Fighting has intensified in the Democratic Republic of Congo and reached the outskirts of Goma. Since the beginning of the year, ICRC surgical teams have treated more than 1,100 patients with weapon-related injuries across the country, but many people are struggling to get health care in more remote areas as health care facilities have been looted and medical workers fled.
  • Communities in the Sahel are caught between advancing deserts, erratic weather, and violence. Millions of people have been forced from their homes by violence in Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso, and Mauritania. With 80% of people in the Sahel relying on agriculture, being displaced also means losing access to their lands and livestock.
  • The economic situation in Afghanistan is worsening. At 33 ICRC-supported hospitals across the country, child malnutrition cases are already 90% higher in 2022 compared to all of 2021, rising from 33,000 cases to over 63,000 so far this year. Meanwhile, at an ICRC-supported children’s hospital in Kabul, the number of children under 5 being treated for pneumonia has risen 55% in 2022 versus the same period last year.
  • The humanitarian crisis in Yemen is likely to worsen in 2023 in the absence of a de-escalation of the conflict, lack of economic improvements, and amplified impact of the climate crises. Funding has also decreased all while 70% of the population depends on some form of humanitarian assistance.
  • In Syria, more than 11 years of conflict have seriously damaged the water network, reducing the supply by between 30 and 40 percent. This year rising cases of acute watery diarrhea added another layer to the suffering of people and underscored how important it is to prevent the collapse of essential infrastructure.
  • Over three million people in Haiti face exacerbated humanitarian needs from protracted armed violence, civil unrest, and the resurgence of cholera cases. We must do more to help stop the spread of cholera, including in places of detention, and make sure that people living in some of the most violent areas have access to medical services.
  • Millions of people affected by the Russia-Ukraine international armed conflict are facing the coldest months of the year with limited heat and water after attacks on critical infrastructure. The most vulnerable people, including children, the elderly, injured, and people with disabilities are likely to suffer the most. Not only are they the most impacted by the elements, but also the ones with less means to find alternative sources of heat and water.
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