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,humanitarian crisesOur world today consists of 195 countries. The sheer volume of people on this planet and the scale of the problems they face can be overwhelming, especially when thinking of humanitarian aid. For this reason, the International Rescue Committee (IRC) began making a yearly emergency watchlist in 2019, highlighting which countries are facing humanitarian crises and require significant urgent aid.

The International Rescue Committee

The IRC has been around since the early 1900s and works globally to improve the lives of those impacted by global health issues, conflict, and natural disasters. They focus on empowering individuals to take back control of their lives. In their U.S. offices, the IRC provides aid to displaced individuals seeking asylum in the U.S.

Generating the List

The IRC analyzes a variety of factors to decide a nation’s human risk, natural risk, vulnerability, and ability to cope during a crisis. These factors are then used to decide which countries are most in danger of humanitarian crises and require the most aid.

10 Countries Facing Humanitarian Crises in 2020

  1. Yemen: Roughly 80% of Yemenis need humanitarian assistance this year, including more than 12 million children. Yemen has been in a civil war for 5 years that has destroyed infrastructure, sanitation systems, medical centers, food distribution capabilities, and has killed roughly 250,000 citizens. Global organizations such as UNICEF agree that the crisis in Yemen is the “largest humanitarian crisis in the world.”
  2. Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC): More than 15.9 million people in the DRC need humanitarian assistance this year. The Eastern DRC has been plagued with conflict and instability for nearly 30 years. This persistent instability has made it difficult for the country to develop infrastructure and food security. The current humanitarian risks in the DRC revolve around food security, Ebola, and Measles. To date, more than 2,000 people have died from Ebola in the DRC, making this the second-largest outbreak in the world.
  3. Syria: 11 million Syrians need humanitarian assistance this year. Since conflict broke out in 2011, more than half of the Syrian population has been displaced. Civilians have been caught in the crossfire of the war between President Assad and opposition groups. These years of conflict have caused extreme damage to Syrian infrastructure, including medical and educational resources.
  4. Nigeria: Close to 8 million Nigerians in the conflict-ridden states of Borno, Adamawa, and Yobe currently need humanitarian assistance, especially regarding sexual violence. Since 2009, roughly 13,000 civilians have died, and thousands of women and children have been assaulted. This year, 826 allegations of sexual abuse were presented in a report to the UN, but many believe that the number of cases is much higher. The northeast of Nigeria is seeing large levels of food insecurity, displacement, violence, and an outbreak of cholera.
  5. Venezuela: 7 million Venezuelans need humanitarian assistance this year. Due to political conflict, Venezuela is facing an economic crisis that has left 94% of households in poverty. Severe inflation has made the cost of basic goods so high that most Venezuelans cannot afford them. Because of this, an estimated 5,000 Venezuelans flee the country every day.
  6. Afghanistan: More than 9.4 million Afghans need humanitarian assistance this year. Since the 2001 NATO invasion that ousted the Taliban, Afghanistan has been experiencing political instability and conflict. The Taliban now controls more of the country than ever before, and after a failed peace deal in 2019, the country faces another contested election. An additional side effect of the conflict in Afghanistan has been a surge in mental illness. Although Afghanistan does not provide mental health reports, the World Health Administration estimates that more than a million Afghans suffer from depression and more than 1.2 million suffer from anxiety.
  7. South Sudan: More than 7.5 million people in South Sudan need humanitarian assistance this year. Since the civil conflict began in 2013, nearly 400,000 people have died, and millions have been displaced. South Sudan is also facing a massive food insecurity crisis that has been exacerbated by the conflict.
  8. Burkina Faso: In Burkina Faso, roughly 2.2 million people need humanitarian assistance, but the situation is drastically worsening. Armed groups are carrying out attacks throughout the nation. This caused the displacement of more than 500,000 people by the end of 2019. According to the UN 2019 report, the number of internally displaced people (IDFs) increased by 712% from January to December.
  9. Somalia: Roughly 5.2 million Somalis are currently in need of humanitarian assistance. Since the fall of President Muhammed Siad Barre in 1991, Somalia has been facing persistent instability and conflict. This conflict has led more than 740,000 people to flee the country. In addition, Somalia is extremely vulnerable to natural disasters due to its underdevelopment.
  10. Central African Republic (CAR): More than 2.6 million Central Africans need humanitarian assistance this year. In 2013, an armed alliance called the Seleka overran the capital of the CAR. Political instability has been rampant ever since. More than a quarter of all Central Africans were displaced, causing food insecurity and underdevelopment.

Although the countries on this watchlist represent 6% of the world’s population, they comprise 55% of those identified to be in need by the 2020 Global Humanitarian Overview. The IRC’s watchlist is an extremely helpful resource that should be utilized for the assessment of which countries are facing humanitarian crises and require foreign aid.

Danielle Forrey
Photo: Pixabay

Flooding in AfghanistanAfter suffering through an extreme drought for months, Afghanistan now faces a new crisis: severe flash floods. As many as 112,000 people have been affected by the flooding in Afghanistan and entire homes or villages have been swept away. In light of both droughts and conflict, the U.N. has estimated that 6.3 million people will need humanitarian assistance in Afghanistan in 2019. The country has faced extreme adversity and is in desperate need of crucial and life-saving aid.

Drought and Flooding

The extreme drought the country has been facing has made it more difficult for the soil to absorb water, which makes flooding more likely. The El Niño weather phenomenon is also largely responsible for the extreme amounts of rainfall experienced by Afghanistan. Some forecasters have predicted that due to this chaotic weather pattern, rainfall could increase by 40 to 50 percent through May. These chaotic changes in weather have had disastrous effects on Afghanistan and its neighbors. Although the rain has stopped, many in Afghanistan fear that even worse flooding is yet to come. The region is often hit by flash floods due to its rocky terrain, but many claim this is the worst flooding the country has seen in years.

Humanitarian Aid

The International Federation of the Red Cross requested an emergency appeal of 7 million Swiss francs, which they mean to use to support up to 650,000 people affected by the flooding in Afghanistan who need immediate relief. The IFRC wants to use this money to support the Afghan Red Crescent Society, in providing shelter, health care, water and sanitation to those affected by both extreme drought and flooding. Recently, USAID with support of the Department of Defense airlifted over 200 metric tons of relief items regions in Afghanistan. The U.S. also announced that they would be providing an additional $61 million in aid relief funds to provide food assistance, hygiene and safe water.

World Disaster Report

Every year the IFRC conducts a World Disaster Report in order to provide more insight into the causes and effects of disaster situations. The IFRC, in partnership with ARC, launched a campaign last year to research natural disasters in Afghanistan. The report’s findings found that not enough money was being invested in risk prevention and a majority of financial aid was being spent after disasters rather than before. It concluded that building resilience and preparedness within communities before disaster strikes is one of the most important factors in reducing the effects of natural disasters.

Extreme drought and severe flooding in Afghanistan have left its people in a state of emergency. The flooding has also begun to hit Afghanistan’s neighbors, Iran and Pakistan, and is causing the same kind of destruction and displacement. Thousands have been displaced and even more are in need of immediate humanitarian assistance. Both U.N. organizations and IFRC are providing crucial aid to combat the aftermath of the flooding in Afghanistan.

– Olivia Halliburton
Photo: Flickr

Better World Books Promotes LiteracyThe ability to read and write is one that is vital to a person’s capacity to function and excel in today’s world. Better World Books, an online new and used book retailer, has set out to provide for this need. Through programs that supply books to those in need and the funding of educational efforts, Better World Books promotes literacy across the globe.

The Mission Of Better World Books

Better World Books was founded in 2002 by three University of Notre Dame students who began selling textbooks online to earn extra cash. However, the business quickly became a social enterprise focused on literacy.

Better World Books does not approach philanthropy like typical companies. A focus on social and environmental good is at the heart of the organization’s business model, not an extra cause tacked on. The company’s mission integrates a focus on literacy and education, so much so that they offer paid time off to employees who are volunteering.

Better World Books collects books from book drives, college campuses and libraries, helping divert used books out of landfills and back into the hands of readers. Additionally, any books not sold are recycled in an attempt to be earth-conscious.

How Better World Books Promotes Literacy

For every book sold, Better World Books promotes literacy by donating a book to those in need. To date, the organization has donated 26,059,744 books to people around the world who do not typically have access to them. The company also gives grants and donations to projects that promote literacy, with a whopping $27,559,358 currently donated.

Better World Books promotes literacy with the help of three main partners: Books for Africa, Room to Read and The National Center for Families Learning. Each of these organizations has unique ways of promoting literacy and education worldwide which they are able to accomplish with the support of Better World Books.

Partnering for Literacy

Books for Africa’s mission is a simple one: bring an end to the “book famine” in Africa. Currently, the organization is the largest transporter of donated books to the African continent having shipped over 41 million books since the company began in 1988. Last year alone $2.5 million was used to send books to students all over Africa. The partnership that Better World Books has established with the organization has been impactful, allowing for more books to be provided to those in need.

Another partner of Better World Books, Room to Read, focuses on providing an education to children everywhere, specifically by increasing literacy and concentrating on gender equality. To date, 10.7 million children have benefitted from Room to Read’s programs, 8,703 teachers and librarians have been trained by the organization and 20.6 million books have been distributed.

Furthermore, Better World Books also partners with The Robinson Community Learning Center in South Bend, Indiana, The Prison Book Program and Ride for Reading. These smaller, domestic organizations were some of the first to benefit from Better World Books’ partnership and began the company’s interest in literacy.

With 750 million illiterate adults worldwide, the work Better World Books is doing is sorely needed. One of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals is to ensure that all youth and most adults are literate and numerate by 2030. With the help of Better World Books, that goal seems more than attainable.

– Sarah Dean
Photo: Flickr

The Internet and other advances in communication technology have helped make the spreading of globalization even quicker. For developing countries, access to technology can have many benefits —  one such improvement being the boost of a nation’s economy. Other ways that technology is helping economies in developing countries include reducing the costs of production, encouraging the growth of new business and advancing communication.

An issue that developing countries must bypass is prioritizing technology innovation, not just adapting to technology. Another issue is that the distribution of technology needs to be equal across a country; so far the poor have not been able to have the same amount of access to technology. It is important for organizations to monitor technology and to encourage innovations and job creation in order to solve these issues.

One organization that works to do just that is Broadband for Good, a group that gives internet access to rural areas and encourages programs to utilize the technology in creating progress in communities.

When technology is used correctly it can be extremely helpful in furthering the prosperity of economies. One such example of technology creating a positive impact on the economy is in regard to India — the Self-Employed Women’s Association uses SMS to send agricultural workers messages about commodity prices. This information helps farmers determine the best places to sell their produce. Farmers who participated in this program have said that they have been able to sell their products over wider areas, which has increased their incomes.

Another example, also in India, is the Hand in Hand Partnership (HIHP). The HIHP is an organization that provides women with mobile devices so that they can launch their own tech-driven businesses. The HIHP helps train and provide technical support for these women. By encouraging women to innovate ideas instead of just giving them technology, HIHP is helping to better the economy in a sustainable and long-term way.

Other countries successful in creating businesses are Nigeria, Egypt and Indonesia. 38 percent of these countries’ gross domestic product (GDP) was generated by micro-entrepreneurs. In a 2011 World Bank report, figures showed that small businesses like these create new jobs and generate new ideas — both of which are great for helping economies.

Deanna Wetmore

Photo: Flickr

Donate money, not stuffIn the midst of global tragedies, many charitable people decide to send old junk or underused resources to foreigners in need. Here are five reasons why one should donate money, not stuff if one wants to solve global hunger.

  1. “Junk” is a logistical nightmare for volunteers. The people brave enough to enter disaster sites must provide emergency care to people in immediate need. They lack the necessary time to sort, transport and store cheap diapers or old sweaters sent in by well-meaning folks. Yahoo Finance reports an incident where, in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, a benefactor sent thousands of pounds of cheese to New Orleans. The trouble was that no working refrigerator could hold such a gift. Lots of material goods appeal to a customer’s wants… they’re not so effective in situations of dire need.
  2. Material donations can wreck a nation’s economy. Kathleen Tierney, the director of a Natural Hazards Center in Colorado, notes how economic problems occur in recovering nations when supply outstrips demand. “If you want to see economic recovery, you don’t want to send so many supplies that you create a situation where people can’t survive in a business sense,” said Tierney. Ultimately, the best use of aid is to help a country until they can take care of themselves. It’s difficult to make one’s living selling T-shirts if a global superpower dropped off millions of shirts for one’s potential customers to wear for free.
  3. Local groups know what resources they need. The Central Texas Food Bank, the largest provider of emergency food distributions in the country, was shut down by flooding during 2017’s Hurricane Harvey. The group’s president, Derrick Chubbs, supports monetary donations instead of material aid. He reasons that relief groups in a disaster area know exactly what they need for certain situations. They only lack the funds to acquire the most helpful tools for the job. The chance to clean one’s house and accomplish a moral good is tempting for a lot of do-gooders. But one can achieve similar results by selling old junk to a consignment store (like Goodwill or Half-Priced Books) and donating the proceeds to a respected charity. With one additional step in giving aid, the effectiveness of a donation multiplies.
  4. “Stuff” is a short-term solution to a long-term problem. The media focuses on the immediate aftermath of a tragedy but often loses interest by the time victims have to return to their homes. Groups like the Salvation Army understand that maintaining emergency shelters and rebuilding destroyed sites takes a long time. This is why nonprofits want people to donate money, not stuff. Not only do charities know what to spend cash on, but they know how to divide that cash to ensure a complete job. Such relief groups cannot fix a community with a stuffed animal sent from across the country.
  5. It’s more effective to call/email your representative. So how can someone help if they feel they lack the money to keep themselves afloat? One free solution would be to contact your representative and ask that your government contribute aid to a country or region in need. The Center for Global Development reports that the U.S. donates only 1 percent of its budget towards International Affairs, which includes disaster relief. Not only can this amount be increased through advocacy, but concerned citizens can ask their representatives to support revenue-neutral bills to solve global problems. Anyone interested in this surprisingly easy path to advocacy should explore The Borgen Project’s page on calling Congress.

– Nick Edinger

Photo: Pixabay

Help SalvadoransThe U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) is providing job training to equip Salvadorans with skills they can use for future employment and economic opportunities. Larry Sacks, the former USAID and El Salvador Mission Director, was in El Salvador in 1999 and was fearful of the violence that he experienced. He became aware that many Salvadorans are threatened by similar violence every day, and has since been part of USAID initiatives to help Salvadorans.

Youth are the primary victims of violence in El Salvador. Furthermore, many young people have a hard time accessing basic healthcare. Due to the low quality and limited access to basic health services, 41 percent of the HIV/AIDS cases in El Salvador are among young people age 15 to 19.

Poverty, along with the lack of education and job opportunities, forces youth to migrate across international borders to seek better opportunities. Most make their way to the United States,  however many enter illegally. As a result, they have limited access to healthcare and social security in the U.S. as well. This puts young adults at a higher risk of becoming a part of youth gangs, participating in criminal activities and substance abuse.

USAID provides aid that will help Salvadorans thrive, eliminating the need for high rates of migration to other states. USAID is partnering with the government of El Salvador, the Ministry of Education, private sector partners and higher education institutions in both the U.S. and El Salvador.

The activities provided are directed towards young adults at the lower secondary level, grades seven to nine, as they are most susceptible to dropping out of school and most vulnerable to joining gangs.

The education programs that USAID has provided in El Salvador, particularly in high-crime areas, help to keep more than 100,000 youth in school. By providing young Salvadorans with education and a safe environment, they are less likely to join gangs. Further, with USAID’s new programs, over 20,000 youth have now received job training.

Chloe Turner

Photo: Flickr

Help the People of EstoniaEstonia is a crucial ally for the United States in the modern age. On March 29, 2004, Estonia joined NATO as a means to strengthen their position in the world and form stronger international relations with the West. Since then, the United States, as well as many other key NATO members, have maintained a strong presence in Estonia to guarantee the nation’s security.

To help the people of Estonia, it is important to consider how to improve the state of their home lives. There are a lot of charitable groups that donate to help displaced children and young mothers.

Caritas Estonia is a valuable organization in Estonia which dedicates itself to improving the lives of vulnerable Estonian women. Their approach to helping the people of Estonia is to provide the support necessary to empower underage mothers and pregnant teenagers to participate and advance in the Estonian workforce.

Another organization working to strengthen Estonian families is SOS Children’s Villages (SOS CV). The organization started in 1992, shortly after Estonia gained its independence from Russia. SOS CV offers a valuable service to the most vulnerable 20 percent of Estonia’s population: it’s children. SOS CV provides homes for children whose parents can no longer afford to house them.

How can you help the people of Estonia? Browse the websites of these organizations to learn more about the work they do. You can donate your time and money to a worthy cause helping to strengthen the Estonian workforce and care for children in Estonia.

You can also email Congress via The Borgen Project’s website. The Borgen Project is an American organization whose purpose is to lobby U.S. Congress to implement policy changes to help reduce poverty around the globe.

These are just a few ways how you can help the people of Estonia.

Tim Sherwood

Photo: Flickr

Hungary_refugee

Though the European refugee crisis has largely faded from the international media’s spotlight, thousands of asylum-seekers continue to enter Europe by any means possible with the hopes of starting a new life. In the face of this ongoing humanitarian crisis, the Hungarian grassroots organization Migration Aid has harnessed the power of social media as a means of delivering aid and guidance to thousands of refugees.

Migration Aid was founded in June 2015, at the height of the European refugee crisis, by a handful of concerned citizens in Budapest that desired to help people in Hungary. The organization originated as a closed group on Facebook, which was utilized as a virtual planning board for orchestrating aid delivery, which included food and supplies distribution. The organization also consisted of various specialty groups with coordinators assigned to handle legal matters, storage, logistics and any other issues. Migration Aid set up centers in the railway stations of Budapest and the surrounding area and quickly grew to over 600 volunteers.

Two years have elapsed since the group’s inception, during which time Migration Aid has helped feed, clothe and provide direction to thousands of refugees, but the situation faced by asylum-seekers in Hungary remains extremely tenuous. Hungary’s geographic location has forced the country into a major role in the crisis, as it is a popular by-way for migrants hoping to settle further afield from the Middle East in Northern and Western Europe. Between January and August of 2017, 2,491 asylum applications were registered in Hungary alone.

The European Union has endeavored to establish a comprehensive and effective means of responding to what has become the largest global displacement crisis since World War II. In September 2015, the European Commission announced a minimum quota of refugees that each EU member country would be expected to host, with the intention of fairly distributing the burden of providing for the record numbers of migrants streaming into the continent. It was also in September 2015 that Hungary closed its borders to refugees, and began strictly limiting their movement throughout the country.

Furthermore, Hungarian officials have resisted compliance with the quotas and policies made obligatory for all members of the EU. In March 2017, the Hungarian government implemented a law requiring that all refugees whose asylum applications were pending be housed in detention centers. When it was discovered that the housing units available at these detention centers were comprised of shipping containers and that refugees were being forced to pay for their stay, the United Nations refugee agency urged the E.U. to stop sending asylum seekers to Hungary, declaring this mandatory detention a violation of international law that guarantees people access to asylum.

Additionally, Viktor Mihály Orbán, a Hungarian politician, petitioned the European Commission President to exempt Hungary from the migrant relocation quotas, a request which was denied and earned the Hungarian government a lawsuit for failure to comply.

In the face of the conditions now being imposed on refugees, Migration Aid has developed new strategies to help people in Hungary. Recognizing the need for information dissemination pertaining to the new laws and regulations, the organization developed a new application named InfoAid, which seeks to provide information to asylum-seekers in their native language. According to Migration Aid’s website, the InfoAid app seeks to provide the following types of information:

  • what rules apply to them
  • where they can receive care
  • what is going on in transport
  • where there is safe drinking water in Hungary
  • where and how they should buy train tickets
  • where they can receive medical care
  • how they should collect the waste they generate
  • where, when and why they have to register and what exactly it involves

The InfoAid app supplies information in English, Arabic, Urdu and Farsi. Migration Aid is currently seeking the help of volunteer translators so that they can keep up with the need for translated information, as well as expand their offerings to include Greek and Pashto.

Thanks to internet technology, anyone around the world with relevant language skills wondering how to help people in Hungary can act as an invaluable source of aid by donating their time and skills. More information about volunteering can be found on Migration Aid’s official website, or on the Facebook page.

For individuals desirous of contributing but who lack the language skills required to volunteer, Migration Aid also accepts monetary donations, which are fundamental to the organization’s ability to help people in Hungary. Now more than ever, the innovative and progressive efforts that this organization continues to make on behalf of refugees in Hungary is a tremendous source of hope and comfort to many.

Savannah Bequeaith

Photo: Flickr

Help People in the Republic of Moldova

The Republic of Moldova is the poorest country in Europe. The national GDP amounts to $1,900 per capita. Moldova relies heavily on agriculture as a main source of income, rendering the environment a major factor in the country’s economic affairs. It faces many economic challenges, including political corruption, which impact the economic depreciation as well. In order to help people in the Republic of Moldova, it is necessary for international aid and domestic reform.

Get Involved – How to Help People in the Republic of Moldova

Major organizations helping the people in the Republic of Moldova include recognizable institutions such as The World Bank and the United Nations.

The World Bank

The World Bank currently has eight projects underway. They are designed to help people in the Republic of Moldova by increasing internal revenue through rejuvenating local businesses and helping to construct a self-sustaining economic foundation.

You can learn more about the World Bank’s mission and how to help by connecting with them on their website.

The United Nations

The United Nations Development Programme focuses on environmental efficiency, developing an accountable and transparent government, and evolving inclusive growth for the people of Moldova.

You can supplement this mission by donating funds or by advocating for change and promoting the mission by visiting their website.

Promo-LEX

Local non-profits are working to promote equality and the insurance of human rights by working directly with Moldovan administration to benefit citizens on a residential level.

The Promo-LEX Association is a group dedicated to democratic values, civic liberties and social justice through pro-bono legal work. By subscribing to the Promo-LEX newsletter, you can keep up to date on legal movements and significant occurrences in Moldova.

Volunteering Moldova

Volunteering Moldova is a state-run non-profit charity whose objective is to aid vulnerable populations including children, the disabled, and those facing financial hardship.

You can get involved by volunteering at group homes, disabled institutions and orphanages. Donations are equally important for non-profits that rely on benevolence; learn how you can fund supplies including diapers, food, medicine, books and school supplies and other general goods. Your efforts will help people in the Republic of Moldova.

Moving Forward

Despite these hardships, Moldova’s economy is growing steadily. Legislative efforts, combined with those of independent organizations, have contributed to successfully reducing poverty. This shows hope for a promising future for the Republic of Moldova.

Sloan Bousselaire

Photo: Flickr

Free EducationPresident of Ghana Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has shown full support for the Government’s Free Senior High School (SHS) program, which launched on September 12, 2017. The initial implementation of this policy was held at West Africa Senior High School (WASS) to officially integrate free senior high school education.

The Ghanaian government’s decision to implement this program was based on the desire to educate at a faster rate to encourage national development and progress.

“By free SHS, we mean that in addition to tuition, which is already free, there will be no admission fees, no library fees, no science center fees, no computer laboratory fees, no examination fees, no utility fees. There will be free textbooks, free boarding and free meals and day students will get a meal at school for free,” said President Akufo-Addo.

The program covers topics including agricultural, vocational and technical studies at the high school level, which will prepare students to be successful members of the community.

With free education opportunities, more children throughout Ghana will be able to attend school, especially girls who struggle with increasing teen pregnancy and teen marriage rates.

Students interested in the free SHS program need to apply, and the most eligible candidates are granted access. Girls, for aforementioned reasons, are prioritized in the decision process in an attempt to increase the number of educated Ghanaian females.

All applicants are fairly reviewed for the free education program, and so far over 420,000 young Ghanaians have applied. Out of these, 267,327 applicants have been accepted and placed in schools. When students are denied initial acceptance into the free SHS program at the school of their choice, they are placed on a waiting list and provided a selection of schools with vacancies.

The free education program has been fully supported by the Ghanaian government, and the opening ceremony at WASS was attended by the President, Vice President of the Republic, Minister for Education, Minister of State for Education and several officials from the Ministry of Education.

The work done by the Ghanaian government to provide free SHS opportunities will open the door for several young students who would otherwise remain uneducated with slim to no future career prospects.

“The coming into effect of the free SHS policy is vital for the transformation of the Ghanaian economy,” President Akufo-Addo said.

Kassidy Tarala

Photo: Flickr