The 7 crises the world cannot ignore in 2023

How wonderful it would be to start the new year with a clean slate: without conflict, climate change or hunger. Unfortunately, even more help is needed in 2023. We cannot ignore these seven humanitarian crises this year.

1. Somalia

It has hardly rained in Somalia for five seasons. About eight million people, about half of the population, are suffering from the devastating effects of drought. It hasn’t been this dry in 40 years. The drought kills livestock and destroys crops. Many people in the country do not have enough to eat.

And if it wasn’t bad enough for the Somalis, their country is also ravaged by violence. This makes it difficult for aid workers to reach the central and southern regions, which are hardest hit by drought.

More than a million people have now fled the drought and hunger in their area. They urgently need help. If we do not take drastic action now, there is a good chance that a famine will break out in Somalia early next year. The Red Cross helps people in Somalia, for example, with food and medical care, but also with setting up their own business.

Life in the Somali capital Mogadishu is not easy. This woman received financial help from the Red Cross and now successfully runs her own clothing store in Mogadishu.

2. The Democratic Republic of the Congo

You would only live in a country where you have to fear violence every day. In the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), armed conflict has left a trail of destruction and casualties for more than 20 years.

In 2022, the fighting in the eastern part of the country has intensified. The Red Cross treated more than 1,100 patients across the country in one year. Many injured or sick Congolese often have nowhere to seek help, as many hospitals have been destroyed in the conflict.

Despite increasing violence and the great need for humanitarian aid, the DRC receives less and less international attention from donors and the media. And it is a big problem, because millions of people in the country need help to survive. About five million people have already fled. As the crisis worsens, more and more children are also missing. A special team from the Red Cross therefore works day and night to find these children.

Young girls wait their turn at a distribution of drinking water from the Red Cross. They are seeking shelter and safety at this school near Goma.

3. Yemen

You may have seen pictures of it: children in Yemen who are malnourished to the bone. In the country, about 19 million people do not have enough to eat. That is more than 63% of the total population, a very high percentage! Unfortunately, the number of people in need of food is only increasing. Yemen is dependent on wheat from Russia and Ukraine, making it even more difficult for families already struggling to feed themselves.

It is another blow to the Yemenis, who have been dealing with a devastating conflict for eight years now. Hundreds of children die every day from malnutrition and diseases such as typhoid and cholera. There are few medical facilities and many water supplies have also been affected. 70% of the population depends on humanitarian aid to survive. The Red Cross is also in Yemen, where we help with water, food, shelter and medical care.

The conflict in Yemen is also called a ‘forgotten war’ because we hear so little about it. This is due, among other things, to the fact that it is difficult for journalists to enter the country to report on it. Therefore, we urge you not to forget this country, which faces so many needs.

A doctor in Yemen treats a four-year-old girl suffering from malnutrition, brain atrophy and epilepsy. Her parents cannot afford the regular care she needs.

4. Afghanistan

Afghanistan is one of the poorest countries in the world and has experienced conflict and violence for more than 40 years. But the instability and violence following the change of government, followed by a devastating earthquake and the worst drought in 27 years, have plunged the country into a deep crisis.

Due to the ongoing drought, there is a major food shortage. 95% of the population in Afghanistan does not have enough to eat. The food that is available is unaffordable for a large part of the population due to the economic crisis. More and more people, especially children, are malnourished and need medical attention. But due to the unrest and violence in the country, the health system has collapsed.

The Red Cross and other organizations are in Afghanistan to help. But the recent news that women in Afghanistan are no longer allowed to study and work for NGOs has major consequences for aid in the country. This worries us greatly: more than 24 million Afghans need humanitarian aid to get through the coming winter.

Afghanistan Women's Aid
A female Afghan Red Crescent worker monitors needs before food distribution, helping to reach the most vulnerable people.

5. Ethiopia

Climate change and the protracted conflict in the Tigray region are pushing Ethiopia higher and higher on our ‘watch list’. Although the fighting in northern Ethiopia has now stopped, the humanitarian need remains acute after two years of conflict. For months, thousands of people in Tigray were without food and medical care. Last November we were finally able to resume our aid, but much more help is needed in the coming period to prevent further suffering for Ethiopians.

The deadly effects of the conflict come on top of devastating drought in several regions of Ethiopia. Like Somalia, Ethiopia has had almost no rain for five seasons, causing livestock deaths and crop failures. Herdsmen see their livelihood disappear and farmers, unable to harvest anything without rain, lose their livelihood.

Dadi, stands next to the remains of her dead cattle at her home in Moyale, Ethiopia. The ongoing drought has killed many of her family’s livestock, leaving her without a livelihood.

6. Ukraine

Just as we finally got corona under control, the world faced the next crisis. Violence has flared up in Ukraine since February last year. The lives of millions of people, including many children, have been turned upside down by the conflict. Many Ukrainians were forced to flee their homes in search of safety. According to the UN, it is even the fastest growing refugee crisis since the Second World War.

Thanks to great international attention to the conflict, we have been able to help many victims. Unfortunately, the conflict is not over yet. Now that it is winter in Ukraine, life is becoming increasingly difficult for many Ukrainians. Due to attacks on critical infrastructure, heating is not working in many places and many people have neither water nor electricity. They need help to survive these cold months.

For example, the Red Cross helps with carpets, generators and house repairs. For example, we installed new windows, doors and roofs in 80 damaged houses in the village of Volnovakha in the Donetsk region. These repairs are much needed to help people get through the winter.

Red Cross staff assess the situation of an elderly couple in Bucha. They are extra vulnerable now that it is winter.

7. Syria

You no longer see the conflict in Syria on the front pages every day. But, unfortunately, this does not mean that the country is much better off now. It has been eleven years since the civil war broke out in the country, but the living conditions for millions of Syrians are worse than ever.

Not only have houses, bridges and roads been shot to pieces, the economy has also completely collapsed. As a result, almost the entire population of Syria now lives below the poverty line. Around 15 million people are in need of humanitarian aid. Cholera has recently broken out in the country. To prevent infections, it is very important that people have access to clean water. But many of the country’s water supplies have been destroyed or aged, leading to a rapid spread of disease. Also, half of the healthcare system has collapsed and many people do not have enough money for treatment or a trip to the hospital.

Many Syrians have had to flee in recent years. About 6.7 million people are still displaced in their own country. Millions of people also live in camps in neighboring countries, often in difficult circumstances.

An international Red Cross team enters the town of Darayya to investigate unexploded ordnance

We are ready for people in need

People in Haiti, in the Sahel and in many other countries are also having a very difficult time. Disasters, conflicts and the changing climate mean that as many as 1 in 23 people worldwide need help to survive. The Red Cross is ready all over the world to help people in need. With branches in no less than 192 countries, we are the largest humanitarian aid organization in the world. And then we are always close.

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