LONDON - A conflict that has forced half a million people from their homes in Cameroon was on Wednesday named the world’s most neglected displacement crisis by aid workers who said the country was edging toward full-blown war.
Hundreds of villages have been burned, hospitals have been attacked and nearly 800,000 children have seen their schools close, said the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), which compiles the annual ranking.
“This culture of paralysis by the international community has to end,” said Jan Egeland, secretary general of the NRC, who recently visited the central African country. “Every day the conflict is allowed to continue, bitterness is building and the region edges closer towards full-blown war.”
36 crises in 2018
The NRC analyzed 36 crises in 2018 to produce its annual list, based on lack of funding, lack of media attention and political neglect. Most of the 10 most neglected were in Africa.
“Humanitarian assistance should be given based on needs, and needs alone,” said Egeland in a statement. “However, every day millions of displaced people are neglected because they have been struck by the wrong crisis and the dollars have dried up.”
A record 68.5 million people had been forced to flee their homes by the end of 2017, said the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) in its latest global trends report.
Top four crises in Africa
Cameroon, where a conflict between armed groups and security forces in the Southwest and Northwest has left 1.3 million people in need of aid, scored highly on all three areas measured by the index.
It was followed by Democratic Republic of Congo, Central African Republic and Burundi, all of which have been affected by conflict.
Ukraine, at No. 5, was the only European country in this list, while Venezuela climbed to sixth place.
The final four countries in the top 10 were Mali, Libya, Ethiopia and Palestine.
Need outpaces aid
Aid agencies are struggling to meet increasing needs worldwide while relying on limited funding, said Helen Thompson for humanitarian organization CARE International UK.
“Ultimately, humanitarian action alone cannot end humanitarian need,” she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
“These crises require political solutions to put an end to conflict, allowing people to recover, rebuild their lives, and live in peace.”