Thursday, June 20, 2024

The Norwegian Refugee Council sounds the alarm about the world’s forgotten refugee crises

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My biggest worry as a mother is that my children are hungry and I don’t have enough food to feed them. Sometimes they cry because they are so hungry, and it breaks my heart, says Mariam, one of many thousands who have had to flee because of war and conflict. Photo: NRC / NTB

Of NTB | 03.06.2024 06:13:06

War and conflicts: For the second year in a row, Burkina Faso is at the top of the Norwegian Refugee Council’s annual report on the world’s ten most neglected refugee crises, nine of which are in Africa.

In order to get on the unpleasant list, the Norwegian Refugee Council uses the following three criteria as a basis: lack of humanitarian funding, lack of media attention and lack of international political and diplomatic initiatives.

– A complete neglect of people on the run has become the new normal. The local political and military elites overlook the suffering they cause, and the world is neither shocked nor compelled to act. We need a global restart of our collective solidarity and a new attention to countries where the needs are greatest, says the Norwegian Refugee Council’s Secretary General Jan Egeland in a press statement.

Mariam is one of many thousands who have been forced to flee in Burkina Faso.

– My biggest concern as a mother is that my children go hungry. Sometimes they cry because they are so hungry, and it breaks my heart, she says.

She makes a small portion of maize for her five children and husband. They only have the resources to cook one meal per day, and this little pot of corn is all the family will eat all day.

They have found a small shelter in Kongoussi in the north of the country. The shelter is too small for them all to fit inside, but now that the rainy season is starting, they can no longer sleep outside. They huddle together and have made small walls on the ground in an attempt to prevent the rain from flowing in.

– The biggest challenge that has been displaced is a lack of proper housekeeping and that we are unable to get enough food to eat, says Mariam.

– But our village is under the control of the armed groups, so we have to stay here, she adds.

– It is too dangerous to use the roads due to frequent attacks. The minimal flight offer that exists does not come close to covering the needs and is also prohibitively expensive, says Egeland.

– A score that would have placed a country in third place on last year’s list means that the country ends up outside the top ten this year. We see an increasing neglect across all three parameters and most clearly in the decline in humanitarian funding, says the report.

The gap between humanitarian appeals and money that was actually received last year was a whopping NOK 341 billion – NOK 106 billion higher than in 2022. This deficit meant that 57 percent of the humanitarian needs were not met.

Egeland emphasizes that the investments must be made both in the form of diplomatic initiatives to bring warring parties to the negotiating table, and in the form of funding from donor countries that are in line with the needs.

– If each of the five most profitable listed companies in the world contributed just 5 percent of their profits in 2023, the funding gap would be covered, the report emphasizes.

Far from the media spotlight, the crisis in Burkina Faso has gotten even worse since it also topped the list last year. Up to two million people are trapped in 39 villages that are being kept closed off from the outside world. Hundreds of thousands of people are cut off from emergency aid.

– The children lose weight, and so do I. Some days I skip the meal to save a small portion for them for the evening, she tells the refugee aid.

Egeland says that it has become increasingly difficult to reach people in desperate need in Burkina Faso.

This year’s list reveals a race to the bottom.

The Norwegian Refugee Council believes that it is far from impossible to get funding for the emergency relief work.

(© NTB)

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