The war in Ukraine is on everyone’s mind – there is new information every day. But what is the situation in other crisis areas of the world? As the world’s largest provider of humanitarian aid, the UN system and its Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) are also tasked with bringing help to countries like Yemen, Myanmar and Venezuela. What is going on at the moment in other crisis and conflict areas of the world? We shift the focus to countries that are not in the headlines right now – but which should not be forgotten.
Venezuela: The crisis never ends
Often overlooked, but one of the most difficult humanitarian situations worldwide: Venezuela has been in a severe political and economic crisis for years. Due to high inflation, countless families in the South American country have become impoverished and can no longer provide for themselves. Several million have left the country and fled to one of the surrounding countries.
Many children in Venezuela are malnourished. Time and again, there are prolonged power cuts. Medical care in the country has partially collapsed – there is a lack of medicines and medical equipment.
The dramatic humanitarian situation in Venezuela continues in 2022 and is exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. According to current research, a total of around seven million people are dependent on humanitarian aid, including 3.2 million children.
Myanmar: 14 million people need humanitarian aid
When was the last time you heard about Myanmar? Perhaps in February 2021, when the parliamentary elections were followed by a military coup, which in turn was followed by protests. The crisis escalated.
Before these events, the UN estimated that about one million people in Myanmar needed humanitarian assistance. Today, the estimate is 14.4 million people, including five million children. The reasons are a dramatic combination of political crisis, escalating violence, the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic and natural disasters, partly due to climate change. Poverty is higher than it has been for years, a quarter of the population does not know when they will eat their next meal.
In 2021, the situation in the Rohingya refugee camps got worse again because of the monsoon and the coronavirus.
Yemen: Seven years of war worsen hunger
More and more people in Yemen are suffering from hunger and often have only one meal a day. Acute hunger is at unprecedented levels amid a severe funding gap. Fuel shortages exacerbate the humanitarian crisis. For children, the risk of falling ill is particularly high if they do not receive enough essential nutrients. More than two million children under the age of five already suffer from acute malnutrition in Yemen – over 500,000 of them to a life-threatening degree.
Syria: No peace in sight
The war in Syria has been ongoing for the last eleven years. Many parts of the country lie in ruins and are contaminated with landmines and explosive remnants of war. Last year alone, nearly 900 children were killed or injured in Syria, according to official UN figures. Food prices went up across Idlib and northern Aleppo in March: the cost of one litre of cooking oil increased by 45 per cent in 4 weeks. Lamb and chicken went up by 25 – 45 per cent. Most of the electricity in the region is sourced from Turkey. Fuel prices have been steadily increasing and electricity prices have already gone up by 125 per cent since January.
The rising prices impact local production costs of basic commodities, along with services and agricultural products. Already hit by the COVID-19 pandemic and economic deterioration, small businesses may close due to high inflation, further weakening economic recovery, adding to high existing unemployment and increasing poverty.
Somalia: On the brink of famine
Somalia is currently experiencing one of the worst droughts in decades. In some regions, the rainy season has failed for the third time in a row, the soil has dried up and there is a lack of drinking water. According to current estimates, six million people in Somalia are already suffering from extreme food insecurity – around 40 percent of the population, and more than twice as many people as at the beginning of the year. Famine is imminent in six areas and more funding is urgently needed to avert it.